Ask Your College Counselor About Test-Optional Schools

In recent months, we’ve experienced a lot of changes to the way we do things at home, at work, and at school. Some of those changes will be temporary, and others will likely become permanent.  It’s too early to tell what will happen with standardized testing in the long run, but even before the pandemic, some colleges and universities had put into place “test-optional” policies for admissions. At test-optional schools, applicants can choose whether or not to submit their SAT/ACT scores for admission. Test scores are not factored into the admission decision unless they are submitted with the application

During the coronavirus pandemic, more than 400 schools have adopted test-optional policies, at least temporarily. And while many students and parents are relieved by this change, others have concerns. As with many changes that have taken place in recent months, these new policies have resulted in some confusion about how to move forward.  Many families are unclear as to whether or not applicants should submit their scores to test-optional schools. 

Here’s our recommendation. 

When to submit your SAT/ACT scores to a test-optional school 

Despite the test-optional trend, it’s still a good idea to participate in standardized testing.  If you have the opportunity to take your SATs or ACTs, it’s a good idea to do so.  Even if you choose not to provide your scores as part of your admissions application, you may want to use them to apply for scholarships, financial aid, or even future transfers if you decide to change the course of your college education.

The decision to submit scores to test-optional schools is one that should be made on a case-by-case basis. We recommend following these three steps for each test-optional school you apply to in order to determine whether or not to submit your test scores: 

Step One: Research the average SAT or ACT score at the school.  

This is very simple to do. In your internet browser search bar, type in “average SAT scores at (name of school).” The range should pop up right away. You may want to follow the links to confirm the number on the school’s website. 

Step Two: Compare your score to the school’s average.

Typically, schools will present their average scores as the middle 50%, which means that the high number in the range represents the 75th percentile, and the low number represents the 25th percentile. 

SAT: If your combined score is within 60 points of the 25th percentile, submit the test score with your application. 

ACT: If your score is within 3 points of the 25th percentile, submit the test score with your application.

If your score does not fall within this range, submitting it could work against you. 

Step Three: Submit the strongest possible application.

Whether you submit your test scores or not, you’ll still be competing with other highly accomplished candidates.  High scores can certainly help you stand out, but they aren’t going to be everything. If you choose not to submit your scores, you won’t be penalized, but you still need to show yourself in the best possible light. Whichever way you decide to go with your test scores, it remains as important as ever to maximize the efforts you put into your coursework, college essays, and extracurricular activities. 

Test Prep, College Essay Help, and College Admissions Counseling at Hawk Educational Solutions

At Hawk Educational Solutions, we understand how challenging it is to plan for the future during these uncertain times. We’re here to help you navigate the college admissions process, from test prep, to college essay help, to admissions counseling, and more. For more information on our services or to schedule an appointment with founder Juliet Hawk, give us a call at 619-300-7231 today. 

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