Last week, we wrote about creating a standardized testing plan and preparing for the SAT and /or the ACT. We also introduced the option of applying to “test optional” colleges if you feel your scores are not an accurate reflection of your academic abilities.
So why are schools deciding to be test optional? Well, many schools feel that the SAT and the ACT are not an accurate prediction of how well you will do in college. They feel that there are other ways for students to show that they are highly motivated to do well academically. Many schools site the results of a 20-year study conducted by Bates College. The study looked at the success of students who submitted SAT scores vs. non-submitters.
Often times when I recommend a test optional college to a client, they are skeptical about the competitiveness and the reputation of the school. Some students perceive that if a school if test optional, then it must not be a “good” school. This assumption could not be further from the truth. While we often debate with students what makes a school a “good” school (that is a topic for another blog post!) the fact is that there are a wide variety of test optional schools out there.
Test optional schools range from the highly selective to those that have a less competitive admission process. They also vary in terms of size, location and academic offerings.
The test optional policies also vary greatly. Some schools will require you to submit standardized testing scores if your GPA is below a certain level. Other schools will ask you to send in additional writing samples or graded homework. Some test optional schools will high recommend that students who do not want their scores reviewed request an interview.
One important question to ask of all colleges is if you do not submit your standardized testing scores, will this influence your chances for merit scholarship consideration. Most of the test optional schools I have spoken with say no, but I alway encourage students to ask, just in case.
In our next blog post, we will profile a few test optional schools and their policies.