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Is "test optional" really an option?

 To take a standardized test (ACT/SAT) or not: that is the big question these days. 

In this new “test-optional” world we’re living in, does it really make a difference if your child takes the SAT or ACT? In a short answer, it does, and not just because there is a test prep tutor writing this blog. 

When the pandemic hit and test dates were canceled worldwide, over 700 universities went test optional for Fall 2021 applicants. Some of those schools are now announcing 1 or 2-year extensions on the policy, begging the question of whether the SAT and ACT are on their way out. The SAT has already ended their subject tests and optional essay section, citing that the application essays and AP exams offer colleges a view of the student’s abilities in those departments. (Don’t worry, we’ll discuss both of those in later blog posts or you can email Hillary with questions!)

Here’s the reality: your child may not need a test score to be admitted to the college of their choice. But many colleges are still using those scores to help determine merit scholarships, honors program admissions, or direct admission to nursing, business, or engineering programs.

The other piece that schools aren’t advertising is that no test score means additional supplements to the application process. The class of 2021 was asked to do everything from writing additional essays to submitting graded work from their high school classes in place of those missing test scores. Our 2021 grads were also more likely to be deferred from target colleges if they had no score, meaning it’s entirely likely that if given two equal applicants, colleges are still weighing test scores as a piece of the puzzle.

As with everything in this college process, the right answer is a very individualized one. If you’re interested in what “test-optional” would mean for you, please reach out and let us help you make an informed decision!


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