So, who benefits from this admission policy? Three types of students in particular benefit from this option for college admission.
1. Students with strong GPAs and low test scores.
There are large numbers of students who perform admirably in the classroom, have the grades to prove it, but cannot replicate their ability on a standardized test. Test optional schools are a very positive option for this type of student. Test-optional or test –flexible does not signify that a school has abandoned standards. While applicants should still have excellent GPAs, the admission office may weigh other factors- extracurricular activities and references- more heavily than the more traditional admission system. Standardized tests can benefit some students but they do not suit everyone.
Selecting the right college is really an exercise in recognizing one’s unique strengths and working with one’s limitations. By choosing a competitive test-optional school a student will be interacting with bright, interested students who have chosen to play to their strengths.
2. Student with a Marked Talent in a Specific Area
Certain students excel in a relatively narrow area of the academic spectrum. For example, the gifted artist who struggles with math or the terrific science student who has little or no interest in English literature. This student may not have a high GPA but rather high grades more heavily skewed toward one or two subjects.
Art schools are often test ambivalent. High school transcripts are still relevant, but art schools tend to realize that standardized exams and artistic talent have little in common. Unfortunately, the situation is less clear for the exceptional science, technology, engineering and math student. Many of the STEM schools still require testing in specific areas. But there are several excellent STEM programs that are test optional or test flexible. A test flexible school may require a student to submit AP or SAT subject tests in lieu of the broader SAT or ACT.
3. Students with Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is a real condition. Anxiety should not dictate a path in life but neither should it academically short change someone. A competitive test optional school can often be the solution.