What is a Test-Optional College?

Comments Off on What is a Test-Optional College? 09 January 2018


While there’s often a lot of pressure to do well on standardized tests, it’s not really everyone’s preferred beverage (notice that we did not specify tea). There’s so much pressure that comes with these large exams nowadays, whether it’s the PSAT, ACT, or SAT, that it’s easy to start seeing those fill-in-the-bubble-completely scantrons in your nightmares. It’s like that old adage about how you shouldn’t judge a fish by its ability (or, in this case, inability) to climb a tree. The point is: if you don’t test well, it adds a layer of difficulty to applying for college. Test-optional colleges are institutions that don’t require you to list your ACT or SAT scores on your application, and they’re great for students with less-than-ideal results.

If you’re immediately skeptical, good for you. It’s good to be wary, but test-optional colleges are as legitimate as schools that require your standardized test scores. Like the many teachers that are actually in high school classrooms, colleges are slowly realizing that these test scores aren’t an end-all be-all for determining what kind of student a teenager is. You’ll find big names on the test-optional colleges list, including Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan University, and Mount Holyoke College.

The benefits for you are straight forward: you’ll be judged on your academics throughout high school, letters of recommendation, and your essay, rather than getting caught up in some inaccurate test-score filter. But, believe it or not, there are advantages for colleges turning to a test-optional policy. Colleges value a well-rounded freshmen class, and that means accepting students that excel at standardized testing and those that don’t, as well as those from high-income and low-income families, and much more. It’s basically an all-around win!

Before applying to a test-optional college, talk to that institution about any circumstances that may surround that policy — basically, each school has its own rules. Your best bet to making sure that you follow them is to call the admissions office and speak directly to an admissions officer. They’ll tell you what’s what and help you totally rock your application! Like Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Let your strengths shine through — without standardized test scores shadowing them — by applying to a test-optional college!


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