Is Test Optional Really Test Optional?

By Huntington Learning Center

In the wake of the pandemic, higher education was forced—like many industries—to adapt and make big changes. Many colleges and universities decided to make standardized tests optional for freshmen applicants, citing the challenges with holding in-person tests as the biggest reason. But as vaccines have been made available, some colleges and universities have returned to their normal admission policies, while others are opting to continue to make SAT/ACT scores optional.

Many parents aren’t sure how to proceed with this historically important part of the admission package. Should the decision be left to your teen, or will they overlook something about why testing is still useful? Does test optional really mean what you think? The answers aren’t simple, so here’s what you need to understand:

  • Many colleges and universities have made SAT/ACT scores only temporarily optional in their admissions, and many others still require them. Florida’s 12 public universities have not waived the SAT/ACT requirement. Many institutions are requiring SAT/ACT scores for first-year applicants through fall 2022 and beyond, while many other colleges and universities have extended their test-optional policies for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle but not stated what their policies will be for 2022-2023. So, while test optional has been common among colleges/universities recently due to the pandemic, it isn’t across the board—and it isn’t permanent everywhere.
  • The SAT/ACT have always been another opportunity for students to prove their strengths and smarts. Students going to college today might have been impacted by the pandemic, and thus, Grade Point Averages (GPAs) might not accurately reflect some students’ ability (especially when schools were closed during spring 2020). But even going forward, students who want to strengthen their applications should consider taking the SAT/ACT. Strong scores are one more standardized measurement of performance.
  • Many merit-based scholarships require SAT/ACT scores. At many colleges and universities, students who wish to be considered for a number of scholarship programs are required to submit SAT or ACT scores. Many automatically offer scholarship money based on students’ GPA and (not or) SAT/ACT scores, even if the SAT/ACT are not required for admission consideration. That means a student with a strong GPA could unintentionally take themselves out of the running for scholarships if they do not submit an SAT or ACT score.
  • SAT/ACT scores are required for admission to some programs. There might be a requirement for freshmen to submit SAT/ACT scores if they want to be considered for admission into certain departments, programs or schools. For example, a college of business or engineering or an architecture program may require certain scores for submission into their schools’ very competitive programs.

So, Does Test Optional Mean Test Optional?

For now, in some scenarios, yes. But for many students, it simply doesn’t make sense to forgo taking the SAT or ACT. Testing can give students a big advantage, especially if they earn strong scores. If your teen doesn’t want admission officers relying solely on their high school transcript for objective academic performance information, testing is a good idea. And if your teen is hoping to receive scholarships, especially the kind that are awarded automatically based on academic factors, it’s worth checking with admissions teams to learn how SAT/ACT scores factor in. 

Call Huntington for Help

Huntington can help your student prepare for the college admission process and make sure they are doing everything they can to increase their chances of acceptance at their college of choice. Call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.