For many students learning that a college is “test optional” has been great news. There are over 800 colleges and universities in the United States that admit students without a review of their test scores. A “test optional” policy means that students can choose not to submit their standardized test scores as part of their application. The National Association of College Admission Counseling supports this recent movement yet there is much debate about this issue and policies vary greatly from school to school.
The change to become a “test optional” school is based on the thought that “test scores do not equal merit.” You won’t find the most highly ranked schools on the growing list but you will see Bowdoin, Wake Forest and Pitzer among some of the highly selective schools making the move.
Some of the schools that have made the move to “test optional” have reported satisfaction with the results. The applicant pools have been found to be more diverse therefore creating more differences in the student body. Schools are learning that a high school student’s academic performance is a very good indicator of future success. There are many factors that Admission representatives consider when making decisions. Writing samples, letters of recommendations, year-end exams and grades are being used as the best indicators of success.
Saint Anselm College has a test optional policy. Nancy Griffin, Dean of Admission reported, “6 years of data show that the best predictor of academic success is a record of academic achievement in rigorous high school coursework.” This change allows schools to look at the whole person to learn more about the applicants personally and academically. Saint Michael’s College in Vermont implemented a test optional policy for the fall of 2010. Officials at the school echoing the belief of Griffin.
I must point out that although schools like Holy Cross are "test optional," about 75% of applicants still submit their test scores. When submitting an application to a test optional school, a student can breathe a bit easier but they still need to take the process seriously. It is important to know that these schools are looking at the whole person during the process. You should make your application as creative and relative as possible.
Lastly, each school can modify their test optional policy. It is best to check directly with the Admission office to learn of the specific requirements. When deciding whether or not to send the scores, remember that colleges tend to prefer a student with high grades and low SAT scores over one with low grades and high SAT scores.