Will Test-Optional College Admissions Stick Around Forever?

By Huntington Learning Center

If you’re the parent of a high school student, you may have at least heard the term “test-optional” in the last year. Schools that embrace test-optional admission policies make standardized tests optional for freshmen applicants. In other words, students do not need to submit SAT/ACT scores to be considered for admission.

How COVID-19 Affected Testing and Admissions

To make things easier, many colleges and universities announced in 2020 that they would not use test scores to make 2020-2021 admission decisions. In fact, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) published a list of institutions—including some non-NACAC member institutions—that have stated they will not need standardized test scores or penalize students for the absence of them in admission decisions.

Instead, the colleges stated that they “endorse a student-centered, holistic approach to admission that will not disadvantage any student without a test score.”

Test-Optional Doesn’t Mean Test Blind

While many colleges are temporarily (or permanently) test-optional, it doesn’t mean that they are test blind (i.e., they won’t consider test scores even if submitted). Test optional is different in that schools will consider test scores of students who submit them.

This means that if students choose to submit test scores, test-optional schools will consider them as part of the admission process. As Boston College puts it, “for those students who do submit standardized testing results, we will use the scores as one component in our holistic review of applications.”  In other words, submitting strong test scores could prove helpful.

Will Some Schools Stick to Test-Optional?

Short answer: yes. In May 2020, the University of California system voted to suspend SAT and ACT testing requirements for many students through 2024 (for its 10 schools) and eliminate them for California students by 2025.

Some schools will be permanently test-optional going forward, such as Davidson College and the University of Oregon. Others are choosing to be test blind and not review standardized test scores at all, such as the University of San Diego.

If a School Considers Scores, Students Should Submit Them

Test optional is a hot topic among parents and students right now but at Huntington, we believe that SAT and ACT scores are still important for several reasons:

  • GPA/grades may not be as accurate due to school closures in spring 2020 and a unique fall 2020. SAT/ACT scores help students prove their skills and knowledge and offer a more standardized measurement of performance.
  • Taking the SAT or ACT will open up more opportunities for scholarships and grants and will balance out a lower GPA.
  • Colleges and universities also use SAT/ACT scores to screen students for merit-based scholarships.
  • SAT/ACT scores are sometimes necessary for full admission into colleges or programs within a school.
  • And lastly, SAT/ACT scores can strengthen students’ application packages when applying to highly competitive schools.

Bottom Line: Colleges Appreciate Information

Colleges want as much information as possible about applicants during their holistic admission process. If SAT/ACT scores are available to them, they will consider them and it could certainly give your teen a leg up.

To learn more about the college admission process and how to help your teen prepare for college and the SAT/ACT, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.