In the unpredictable college admissions landscape, perhaps nothing has changed more in recent years than policies on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Here are the most common standardized testing policies in effect now.
1. Test Optional.
These days, most colleges will evaluate an application whether or not it includes an SAT or ACT score. A strong score is still an asset, though the definition of “strong” varies quite a bit from school to school. At the same time, students who feel their test score would harm their application no longer have to disclose it to colleges.
2. Test Preferred.
Some colleges make it clear that they prefer applicants to include test scores. Others may not explicitly state that, yet they still admit over 75% of students with test scores. At “tests preferred” colleges, many students without test scores are admitted to satisfy institutional priorities like first-generation attendees, legacies, athletes and other special groups.
3. Tests Required.
Just a few years ago, before pandemic shutdowns, almost every university required test scores for admission. Now it’s relatively rare. Generally, the types of institutions most likely to require them are highly selective universities and southern state schools.
4. Test Blind / Score Free.
At these schools, a test score won’t help or hurt your admissions chances. The most well-known examples of this policy are the University of California and California State University systems.
5. Test Optional (Except for Scholarships).
At many “test optional” colleges and universities, SAT or ACT scores may be required for some scholarships. Some even indicate the exact amount of money a student can earn with a certain test score and GPA.
Contributor Jim Wissmer is with Ivy Experience, a leading test prep, tutoring and essay consulting service in our region. Wissmer is the director. Visit myivyexperience.com.