By Julia Garelick
SAT and ACT scores are common admission requirements for college. But what if it was possible to get into a great school without taking either of these exams? Behold test-optional colleges. Colleges that are test-optional don’t require you to submit SAT or ACT scores but will consider them if submitted.
So what does this mean? Test optional means that you do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission to a particular school. So while you may submit test scores if you want, you are not actually required to do so. Colleges that are test-optional simply put less emphasis on the importance of the SAT and ACT by making the tests an unnecessary component of the admission process. If you took the SAT or ACT but didn’t score as highly as you hoped you would, you can apply to test-optional colleges in order to avoid having to send in any unsatisfactory test scores that could potentially hurt your application.
Truly test-optional schools are exactly as they sound: you decide whether you’d like to submit your SAT/ACT test scores or not. In other words, you get to determine how you want to present yourself to schools. For example, if you feel your SAT scores are subpar, you might choose to withhold your scores and instead opt for strengthening other parts of your application, such as your personal statement and resume. Popular test-optional colleges and universities include the University of Chicago, Wake Forest University, Bowdoin College, Bucknell University, Pitzer College, and Brandeis University.
Though the vast majority of top-tier schools require SAT/ACT scores, a solid handful of them—from popular liberal arts colleges to well-known research universities—are test-optional. It is encouraged to skim the test-optional lists to see whether there are any schools that might interest you. Remember, since schools’ test-optional policies can vary significantly, it’s a good idea to check with schools directly to learn more about their individual SAT/ACT score policies.
Photo courtesy of collegeinteractive.com