How did we get here? (The Testing Optional Saga)

Across the country, many colleges and universities have adopted Testing Optional policies within their admissions process. But what does this mean for students moving forward? Let’s take a look at this ever-evolving admissions situation. 

What led to the current Testing Optional Policies?

Starting in Spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, test centers across the country were forced to cancel or greatly reduce availability for their spring test dates. The College Board canceled all remaining SAT test dates. The ACT canceled the April ACT and had a very limited number of test centers for June and July test dates. 

In general, a high percentage of students take their ACT or SAT the spring of their junior year. Due to the cancellations, this drastically decreased the number of students able to take the required admissions tests.

Why did these cancellations affect College Admissions’ Policies?

Colleges need to fill their class spots in order to survive—simply put, they need the tuition money. Due to the test date cancellations, colleges either would face a greatly reduced applicant pool or have to eliminate the score requirement. To remain selective, colleges opted to make the testing requirement optional in hopes of maintaining a large pool of applicants. 

But what does Test Optional really mean? 

The wording of many of the testing optional statements leave a lot of room for interpretation. Ideally, testing optional should mean that an applicant will not be placed at a disadvantage for not submitting a test score. In reality, it seems that testing optional also places more emphasis on students receiving higher test scores to remain competitive since applicants with lower test scores are not required to submit. 

Check out our previous posts on Colleges’ Testing Optional Policies:

Additional questions concerning testing optional policies or how this affects your college plans? Contact us today. 

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