Not having to submit your test scores from the SAT or ACT might sound like a great deal when it comes to sending out college applications, and with Covid-19 causing test cancelations nationwide, there are even more schools on the list of test-optional colleges than ever this year. But what does that actually mean for you when it comes time to start sending in your college applications? Let’s take a look at what test-optional actually means, and how it can affect your college admissions experience.

Test-Optional Colleges vs. Test-Flexible Colleges

When a college or university is listed as test-optional, this simply means that you don’t have to send in your SAT or ACT test scores in your admissions application. If you decide to not send scores to the college, it will not be counted against you during the application review process.

This is different from test-flexible schools, where sending in your test scores is just one of a few options that you can choose from. The other options might include items such as your SAT Subject Test scores or your International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, which would take the place of your SAT or ACT test scores in your application packet. Be sure to look at the specific requirements for the schools that you are interested in, as test-flexible school admission requirements vary greatly between each institution.

Not to Be Confused with Test-Blind Colleges!

There is a small pool of colleges and universities in the US that are actually test-blind schools; they will actually not accept your test scores as a part of your admissions application! These schools are starting a new trend in admissions offices where students are assessed based on other guidelines rather than standardized testing.

So, What Should I Do About Test Scores?

The takeaway from these changes in admissions requirements means that more students than ever have a chance to enter the school of their dreams. You’ll have the most options open to you if you go ahead and take the SAT or ACT, but know that if your top choices for colleges or universities are test-optional or test-flexible, then you won’t have to submit your scores if you feel like they don’t represent you and your academic abilities well.

If you do decide to exempt your test scores from your application, be sure that the rest of your admissions packet is jazzed up! Depending on which college you are applying to and what major you hope to pursue, you might consider including a portfolio of your work, your test scores from any IB classes, or an ESL certificate if you are able to claim a second native language or are applying to a US college from abroad. And especially spend some extra time on your application essays, making sure they are well written and grammatically correct with no errors!

Whether or not you should submit your test scores in your admissions application will depend greatly on the school, your other strengths and weaknesses in the application, and if including the test scores will actually help you in the process. Not sure which parts of your application you should be emphasizing in order to get into your dream school? Send a message to our college and career advisors today to get a detailed admissions plan made just for you and your academic journey.

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