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Test-Optional – What to Do?

The pandemic made last year and like no other for college admissions. The most significant change is that many schools have decided to go test-optional. Test-optional means you do not have to submit your ACT or SAT scores if you don’t want to and you won’t be penalized for it during the admission review.  

During the admissions cycle for the class of 2021, regardless of the school’s elite status, more than 1,000 campuses have dropped SAT/ACT as an admission requirement and admission officers have reviewed a record number of applications due to the number of students taking advantage of this option.

… test scores are important but not nearly as significant as students and parents think.

– Jeff Selingo

What to Do

In his book, Who Gets in and Why, A Year Inside College Admissions, released just before the pandemic, Jeff Selingo says, “..test scores are important but not nearly as significant as students and parents think.” Admissions officers use scores mainly to check against the transcript, asking questions such as do the grades and transcripts line up?  

It has been discussed among many college advisors that if you have a score lower than 1300, it is advisable not to submit your score. Anything below that, you may want to choose to go test-optional. 

What Happens Then

So, what factors does an admission counselor look at when reviewing an application without test scores? Many put the most weight on GPA as well as the rigor of the curriculum. They will also look at essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, and extracurricular activities. 

Don’t despair if your GPA is lower! There are many schools out there that provide excellent education and accept students with lower GPAs. Your selection of a major may be a deciding factor. 

Try to find opportunities while in high school to show your interest in this field and list them in your extracurricular activities list. Showing an increase in grades, an internship, a volunteer opportunity, or a unique project may be just the advantage you need to overcome a lower GPA. 

Looking for some help with discovering your strengths or figuring out how to showcase your accomplishments for your college applications? We can help! Contact us today.