Hi Anthony, thank you for your question and good job looking at colleges to apply for. There’s no question that colleges have had to adapt in the recent months. From moving to online instruction, to welcoming campus visitors virtually. For prospective students like yourself, the biggest adjustment you will find is that many colleges are adopting test-optional policies. It may be obvious why colleges are making these decisions, given the test cancellations from both College Board and ACT. It’s still up in the air if the summer testing days will take place. I hope that more students are asking the question you are.

The first college to adopt a test optional policy was Bowdoin College back in 1969. Many colleges have since followed this policy. The University of Chicago in Illinois was the first highly selective research university to adapt a test optional policy in 2018. Since then, the announcements continue to come in and the state of COVID-19 is just adding to that trend.

Students who feel that their scores are a good representation of their future success, are still encouraged to submit them even if the school doesn’t require them. Not all test-optional schools are created equal so please pay attention to the details. Colleges and universities have a very unique process of how they determine who gets in based on their institutional priorities. However, many have the same holistic review process where grades, extracurriculars and personal statements, play a large role in the decision to admit you into their institution.  Brandeis University offers students three options: 

  • SAT/ACT scores, or 
  • Three Subject Tests of your choice, or
  • A writing sample with an extra letter of recommendation

Another thing to be taken into account for test-optional schools is as to whether or not test scores play a role in their decision to offer merit aid. This could be a big deterrent for students who are looking for all funding opportunities to be able to pay for college. Lastly, if you plan on playing competitive sports in college, you will be required to submit scores. For both scenarios, I assume there will be flexibility to the existing rules given the test cancellations across the board. 

Good luck with the search and don’t forget to continue to ask questions!