How Do Students Navigate A Test-Optional World?

How Do Students Navigate A Test-Optional World?

What Is A Test-Optional School?

You may have already heard the phrase "test-optional" thrown around in your everyday life but don't know what it means.

Test-optional schools are colleges that allow students to submit their SAT or ACT scores but don't require them. The idea is that the school will consider a test score when sent to them but focus on other academic factors. A school may consider an ACT score to be less valuable than a GPA, so students will be judged more on their other aspects than on their entrance exam.

The Problem With Test-Optional Colleges

This new system may sound good on paper, but there are a few flaws to the system in practice.

College admissions offices only know what you tell them. This means that if you send less information to these offices, they are going to look at these aspects of you more closely. 

Building A Case To Sell Yourself

One major issue with test-optional schools is that they are still optional. When students are given the option to send in their test scores, the students with high scores will choose to send them in, while students with low scores will choose not to.

Students who choose to send in their scores are giving more information to the admissions office than other students. This means that the administration will know more about how this student performs on certain topics.

Elements of Your Application

Another problem with test-optional schools is that your other attributes start to hold more weight.

By choosing to send in your test score, you are sending a school more credentials. The more information you send to a school, the more your portfolio builds and the more the school is willing to overlook certain blemishes.

When a student chooses not to send in a college entrance exam, admissions offices will have less to work with. Flaws in your GPA that might otherwise be overlooked will now come to the forefront and bear more weight. 


The last major issue with a lack of SAT or ACT scores is with scholarships. 

Many scholarships still require the submission of a college entrance exam score. As such, even students with otherwise perfect academics will be missing out on free money.

Merit scholarships, in particular, are prone to this clause, as a high test score might be what puts you over. 

Is Affirmative Action Gone?

Affirmative action is a set of government policies and practices that incentivise granting college admission to minorities. 

Minorities are often housed in lower-income neighborhoods with less money to fund their public schools, so many of these people receive a lower level of education. 

Affirmative action was taken in The United States as far back as the 1960’s to offset historical disadvantages bestowed upon certain groups of people. The idea behind these policies is that by granting higher education to more groups of people, it will create a more educated populace and gradually work to bring people out of poverty.

As of June 29th 2023, The US Supreme Court has rejected affirmative action for colleges and universities.

With affirmative action out of the picture, it is more important than ever to obtain a higher test score. Students who would have previously benefited from affirmative action policies now have to work harder to stand out, and a high test score is one of those factors.

Should I Submit My Test Score?

Regardless of your current academic standing, choosing to send in your college entrance exam can only help you. Sending in your test score when applying to a college is going to give you a better chance at acceptance and make you applicable to more scholarship opportunities. 

Of course, you will want to make sure you score highly on your SAT or ACT exam. A low-scoring exam will yield many of the same detriments as not sending in your score at all.

This is why The College Review offers a variety of tutoring programs to help you get the scores you want. We specialize in walking you through the college process and helping to guide you along the way.

If you or someone you know wants to get into an elusive school, a high score on your college entrance exam is the best first step!

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