Test-Optional - Most schools are - but which schools lean in?
Updated: Oct 19, 2022
So your test scores are right on the bubble of admitted students, and you have a transcript with curriculum rigor and good grades. How do you know if submitting scores is the right approach? Common questions include those asked below.
My transcript is stronger than my test scores, but my scores are close. If I don't submit my scores, will admissions assume my test scores are much lower than they are?
How do I know if a school leans into test-optional students or they "really don't mean it."
Data is key. Schools have published admission data from the 2021-2022 application cycle. Data from last year's cycle won't be forthcoming for quite a while, so we will work with what we have.
Check out the school's Common Data Set for 2021-2022. See the University of Texas at Austin as an example.
Go to Section C9 to see enrolled freshman students who submitted SAT/ACT scores. It is important to understand that this data is not from admitted students, but we work with what we have.
Consider the range of enrolled students that submitted scores. For this UT Austin example, the range is from 56% to 82% of admitted students, with an average of 69%. With over half of the students submitting scores and possibly many more, we think the school likely leans toward strong test scores. Compare that to Virginia Tech, with a 48% average, and students may feel that a VA Tech test-optional application is a bit more friendly.
Of course, the strongest indicator of college readiness is curriculum rigor and a full academic schedule for all four years with mostly As and Bs. Standardized test scores supplement a strong high school body of work.