Test optional admissions have become a “new normal” for the upcoming college admissions cycle. They have presented many concerns and questions for parents and students alike. There is also uncertainty about upcoming test centers and test dates as high schools and colleges plan to reopen this fall.
Niki wrote her doctoral thesis on test optional while she worked as a senior admissions director at Temple University (picture above). Niki’s conclusions, based on her study of student success at Temple, led the university to make the decision go test optional in 2015. Temple was probably the largest university to go test optional—and made it possible for applicants to all majors.
Prior to Temple’s decision to go test optional, less than 40 percent of their freshmen graduated on time. Since then, Temple has complemented test optional admissions with a student success initiative called ‘Fly In Four’. Four-year graduation rates for the classes that have arrived since 2015 are approaching 60 percent.
Since then many other large and small schools have gone test optional. However, as Niki will advise, be careful and do your homework. Some schools will require test scores for more competitive programs such as engineering, nursing or pharmacy. High scores may be necessary to qualify for merit scholarships or honors colleges.
Test-optional admissions are going to be with us for a while in this COVID reality. But keep in mind that:
The grades and the academic rigor shown on the transcript will become more important when an admissions office has no scores. Different schools and academic programs will have different academic expectations.
Extracurricular achievements will become more important, including jobs and family responsibilities. College admissions offices might also ask for essays, recommendations and other information to help them make a decision. Take these requirements seriously when you apply.
If your high school reports standardized test results on your transcript, tell your school counselor that you do not wish to have them reported to colleges.
Test optional means that test scores are part of your admissions package, if you submit them. They are not considered, if you do not. Test blind admissions means that an admissions office will not even look at your scores.
More often than not, admissions officers will tell prospects with average or median scores, or better, to submit them.
A more selective school might place a higher level of importance on the scores. A larger school might place more importance on scores for admissions to a highly competitive major.
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Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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