Test-Optional Schools

Test-Optional Schools

In recent years, many more colleges have become “test-optional” or “test-flexible.”  The question of whether the SAT’s fairly measure a student’s ability to succeed in college has been debated for decades.  Some see the exams as biased and unable to accurately portray a student’s intelligence or potential.   Some test-optional schools do not require applicants to submit any standardized test scores at all.  These schools base admissions decisions solely on a student’s grades, essays, and extra-curricular activities.  Other test-flexible schools allow students to submit test scores other than the general SAT or ACT.  Some examples of tests that may be accepted instead are the SAT Subject Tests and/or AP Exam scores.

What type of student should consider a test-optional school?

Some students have severe test anxiety and that prevents them from performing their best on standardized exams.  Others have learning disabilities that make timed tests extremely difficult.  Still, others are just not good test takers.  For a student with any of these issues that has a high-grade point average consistent throughout high school, a diverse transcript of classes, along with a strong essay and resume, opting out of the SAT’s may be a good option.

What are the disadvantages of not submitting SAT scores?

However, there are some downsides to opting out of the SAT’s.  First, they are universally accepted at almost any college.  If there is even one school a student is interested in applying to that requires the SAT, the student will need to take the test. If the student is a good test taker, performing well on the SAT’s could help balance a lower grade point average or weaker resume.  Also, by not taking the SAT’s at all, a student could be missing out on financial aid opportunities that require SAT scores.

What Do The Different Types of Test-Optional Mean?

  • Test-OptionalSchools that fall into this category mean what they say: you can opt to exclude standardized test scores from consideration as part of your application, no strings attached.  Of course, if you want your test scores considered they’ll take them as well.
  • Test-Blind. “Test-Blind” schools never consider standardized test scores as part of your application. So even if you have great SAT/ACT scores you’d like to submit, they’ll be ignored.  We are aware of one school that has adopted a test-blind policy: Hampshire College.
  • Test-Flexible. Schools that fall into the “test-flexible” category allow you to substitute your standardized test scores with other credentials, such as SAT II subject tests, graded writing samples or advanced placement test scores.  So while you can exclude your SAT or ACT scores, you’ll need to provide something else to help them gauge your academic ability and potential.
  • Test-Conditional. Schools in this category will waive the need for standardized test scores if certain minimum conditions are met.  These conditions typically include GPA and/or class rank cutoffs.

What Schools are Test-Optional?

Below are some of the Top 10 “Top Tier” schools that are test optional/flexible from the 2018 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges Guide.  (Note:  Some scores were tied resulting in more than 10 schools on the list)

Providence College (RI) – optional                   High Point University (NC) –

Rollins College (FL) – optional                           Fairfield University (CT)

Drake University (IA) – flexible                         Catawba College (NC) – flexible

Loyola University (MD) – flexible                     University of Scranton (PA) – flexible

Stetson University (FL) -optional                      James Madison University (VA) – optional

Emerson (MA) – flexible                                     Ithaca College (NY) – optional

University of Maine (ME)                                  Colby Sawyer College (NH)

Marist College (NY) – optional                           Bryant University (RI) – flexible

Other Maryland schools that made the top 100 of test-optional/flexible colleges:

Washington College – conditional

St. John’s College – optional

Hood College

Salisbury University – conditional


College Placement Consulting offers comprehensive college planning services.  In helping to identify each student’s next best step in the college process, our goal at CPC is to eliminate stress, de-mystify the process, and internally motivate each student by using state of the art resources and top-notch specialists.  If you are interested in learning more, you can schedule a consultation here or contact us at 410-822-4500 or info@teamcpc.com


College Placement Consulting
Test-Optional Schools In recent years, many more colleges have become “test-optional” or “test-flexible.”  The question of whether the SAT’s fairly measure a student’s ability to succeed in college has been ...
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