Updated: Jun 18
As a high schooler beginning on your journey to college, one of the most important aspects of the college admissions process is the standardized testing process. Do the words “SAT” and “ACT” sound familiar? You may automatically assume that these test scores are required, as they have been for numerous universities in the past, but as of the fall of 2021, over 65% of all bachelor-degree institutions in the United States became test optional.
Test optional status was developed pre-pandemic at some universities but grew as an option as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, some universities that are test optional have chosen to continue to remain so because it is beneficial to underrepresented students in terms of providing access to institutions that may have not been accessible for them without stellar scores in the past.
While many of you may begin to breathe a sigh of relief because of this recent issue, others of you may wonder “What do I do if I’ve already taken my SAT/ACT?” or “Will my scores go to waste?”.
Well, the answer depends on if the school you are interested in requires test scores or is test-optional.
If the school is test optional, you may still be able to submit your scores as it will depend on whether the submission of test scores is completely your choice or if the school is test-blind or test-flexible.
Test-blind means that universities will not review submitted test scores. Any SAT or ACT scores you send to the university will not be looked at or considered towards your chances of admission. Test-flexible means that students can provide AP or IB test scores in place of SAT or ACT scores. If you have taken an AP or IB test that you have scored better on than a SAT or ACT test, you can submit those scores instead if the university is test-flexible.
*When wondering whether or not to submit test scores, first be sure to check if the university you are applying to requires test scores or is test optional. If the university is test optional, be sure to check if the university is test-flexible or completely test-blind. If the university is test optional and you decide not to submit test scores, make sure to build up strong points on other parts of your application (such as your application essays or recommendation letters) to better help your chances of admission and to make you stand out!
As the effects of the pandemic has lessened some universities may revert back to requiring admissions tests. Still others may decide to continue to be test optional for the foreseeable future. As a precaution you may wish to study and prepare for the tests in the event that the institution you are interested in requires the test scores. You can best do this by remaining in communication with all the universities you are considering to determine the test status of your choice(s)and plan accordingly.
Co-Authors - Nia Pinckney, Dr. Greta Oliver