How to Apply to Test-Optional Colleges
UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS | 4 MIN READ
Even before the coronavirus pandemic began upending the way we’ve always done things, standardized tests—once a stalwart of the college application process—had begun falling out of favor.
Since Bowdoin College stopped requiring aptitude exams for entrance five decades ago, the movement away from SATs and ACTs has been slowly, but steadily, picking up steam.
That is, until the spring of 2020, when testing dates started evaporating from calendars over concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. By the fall of 2021, more than half of the universities and colleges in the United States will be test-optional. Elmhurst University is piloting a test-optional program for the 2020-21 application year.
How Does that Change My College Application?
It’s not likely you’ll be saying goodbye to tests altogether. After all, most high school juniors and seniors will still take at least one standardized test. It still makes sense to get an idea of how you perform under that kind of pressure. And you might surprise yourself!
Remember, high scores can still be submitted—and can give you a boost, especially if you want to be considered for certain merit-based scholarships.
But if you don’t believe that your test scores truly reflect your abilities, you have options. Many admissions departments have lost confidence in the ability of tests to predict campus success. Your performance in high school is more likely a better indicator of how your college career will go.
So, colleges want to know what types of courses you are taking and how you’ve challenged yourself and performed in them as you prepare for higher education.