By Nate Laskey and the Parros Team.
Since the start of COVID-19 last year, both students and colleges have had to adjust to the many constraints due to the virus. With a lack of proper access to ACT and SAT testing sites at the beginning of the pandemic, many schools quickly adopted test-optional policies to accommodate their incoming students better. However, for students applying to colleges for the very first time, these policies may bring new challenges in their application process. For this reason, this article will walk through what exactly these policies are and the lesser-discussed benefits and disadvantages they provide.
The first policy that many colleges have adopted is the test-optional policy. This policy allows students to decide whether or not they want to submit test scores during their application process. However, the decision to be test-optional or not will also change how your application is reviewed. For those who choose to be test flexible, their decision will be influenced more by the student’s academics, extracurriculars, recommendations, and any essays that they submit. This policy will benefit those who feel that their test scores do not adequately reflect their overall student competencies. We review our student’s schools and design a strategy that will be best for these schools.
The second policy offered currently is the test-flexible policy. Test-flexible schools allow you to choose not to submit ACT/SAT scores while still submitting alternative scores from tests such as the International Baccalaureate exam, Advanced Placement exam, or the SAT II. The alternative scores that are accepted will vary depending on the school.
The final and less common policy we will discuss is the test-blind policy. Test-blind schools will not evaluate any of their applicants based on their test scores. Instead, schools that adopt these policies look to see their applicants reviewed primarily on their academics, extracurriculars, recommendations, and essays.
These policies provide great benefits to many students who couldn’t test due to COVID-19 restrictions or those who aren’t the best test-takers. However, they do still have their downsides.
Despite the number of students choosing to be test-optional, many have continued to submit their test scores to colleges. While colleges state that their testing decisions will not negatively reflect on them, it may disadvantage certain students. Students who choose not to submit test scores may not be favored as positively compared to an equally talented student who has chosen to submit scores. Due to the limited number of applicants accepted each year, many highly qualified applicants will be denied due to this one difference.
The decision to submit test scores or not is just one of many decisions you will be making throughout your college experience. At Parros College Planning, we bring clarity and ease throughout the entire process. If you have further questions about what to expect as you apply for college, our fantastic team members are here to help!