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Read This Before You Decide on Test Optional!

college admissionsOne of the biggest changes in the college admissions’ process for the class of 2021 was the drastic number of colleges who adopted test-optional policies.  For those of you who aren’t aware of test optional, this term means that reporting SAT or ACT scores is optional to a college application.  Prior to Covid-19, 77 percent of students self-reported a test score on their college application according to the Common App.  This past year only 46 percent of students did.

Colleges with test optional policies are continuing for the class of 2022.  To see a complete list of test optional schools, please check out www.fairtest.org. So, what was the impact of a lack of test scores on admission decisions this year and what can we expect for the class of 2022?

According to the admissions staff at several colleges, many had a more difficult time in reviewing applications and making admission decisions.  “I realized that I had been relying more on test scores than any other part of the college application in my decisions,” one admissions counselor at a Maryland school shared.

At the same time, many students, who in previous years would have been discouraged from applying after viewing the college’s median test scores, applied this time around. Colleges were inundated with an increase in applications – for some schools an increase of more than 50 percent.

Tests are More Crucial for STEM and Business Fields

The students who got in this year with a test, and who were admitted without one, differed by major. Several universitiesSTEM fields more likely to require tests have reported admission rates that were similar between those with and without a test score.  An exception was students applying in STEM and Business fields, where students who submitted test scores got in at much higher rates.  For example, Emory University students admit rate with a test was 17 percent; without a test it was just 8.6 percent.

Many admissions offices are considering changing their requirements for a merit scholarship and requiring a test score. Clemson is one school that already does have that requirement and more schools may follow suit.

Finally, the state of Florida was the only state that still required test scores for the class of 2021.  Rick Clark, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech, expects that more states in the south will make test scores mandatory for 2022.

The bottom line for students in the class of 2022, it is best if you have an ACT or SAT score that will support you in getting into college and obtaining any merit aid.    You just might need it.