By Alan Sheptin
As the coronavirus reared its ugly head, we all retreated. My rising juniors, who were working hard to get ready for exams, saw their efforts evaporate. During this time, many American colleges and universities told rising seniors that testing was optional. Some of these colleges are among the most competitive nationally. The new ‘Test Optional’ means that a student can choose not to submit scores. If a score is submitted, it will be considered as part of the application, regardless of result but scores are de-emphasized. It differs from Test Blind, which means that scores will not be viewed, even if a student submits a 1600 SAT and a 36 ACT. Conversely, in some state universities, test optional means that as long as a student has a threshold GPA, an SAT or ACT is not required. Even though a university may go test optional, certain programs at those schools may still require testing. Very selective programs, such as BA/MD or Engineering may require some form of testing.
Why do schools decide to go test optional?
In this current day, many students may not have access to testing. Shuttered schools will not open on a Saturday morning for a three-hour test. Historically though, schools have gone test optional to encourage lower socioeconomic and first-generation students to apply.
What happens when a school goes test optional?
Studies have shown there to be a sizable increase in applications, sometimes as much as 20-25%! The number of offers a school can make will not change, so the selectivity increases. Often, if a school does not see a score, all the other parameters must be that much stronger, namely grades, recommendations and personal statements. Finally, if your student has a score that is at least at the 50th percentile for that school, submit it. Any other testing that is available (AP scores, Subject Tests), should be submitted. The more data available, the better. The pressure is on to get a test done imminently. However, please do not criss-cross the northeast in search of a test center. Do the best you can. However, if you get a test site, we urge students to get back in the saddle and prep. My team and I are happy to help both the rising juniors and seniors with diagnostics and to devise a fall testing plan.
Visit sheptin.com or call (914)232-3743 to learn more about Sheptin Tutoring Group.