To test or not to test…that is the question.
As many colleges and universities announce new test optional policies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, students are questioning whether it is necessary to prepare for and take the SAT or ACT test. The short answer is YES! And here’s why…
- Test optional DOES NOT MEAN test blind. Specifically, test blind schools do not use standardized test scores AT ALL to evaluate their applicants. Each and every applicant is evaluated using the same criteria such as school transcripts and personal statements. This is NOT the case for test optional schools where students are evaluated based on all the criteria submitted, including test scores for those who choose to send. Certain schools such as George Washington University have been test optional for some time. Data from test optional schools has shown that when students are given the choice to submit scores, non-submitters are admitted at lower rates than those who submit test scores.* Data also reveals that the average GPA requirements for students who choose not to submit tests scores are higher. In other words, without a test score to review, admissions officers must scrutinize and place more weight on other aspects of the application.
- Unless EVERY school to which you are applying is test optional, you will still need to submit test scores for at least some of your schools. As of now (mid-June), none of the Florida public universities have announced test optional policies, so if any of the state universities are on your college list, plan on testing!
- Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program requires a standardized test score for qualification, and it is highly unlikely that requirement will be disappear anytime soon. The Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholars awards currently cover 100% and 75% of tuition at a Florida public university, respectively, so that is a lot of money to leave on the table. And since students have until the end of their senior year to meet the testing requirements, there are plenty of testing dates from which to choose. Moreover, scholarships from other private and out-of-state schools are often granted based – at least in some part – on standardized test scores.
There are certainly legitimate reasons for a student to choose a test optional route, but a college simply announcing that it is now test optional is not necessarily a good reason. The decision to submit an application without a test score should be carefully considered based on multiple factors after a student has given testing his/her best effort, not because it seems like the easier path to travel.
*Inside Higher Ed, “Ethical College Admissions: What We Know,” January 7, 2019