What you should know about Test-optional policy for admissions More than 1500 4-year colleges and universities have adopted “test-optional”, which simply means that SAT or ACT scores are not necessarily a required part of the application. Now, this may be like a Godsend move for a few, while it may have left few others confused. With majority institutions doing away with SAT and ACT scores, one wonders, is it really worth taking these exams. Before we dive in further, let’s first understand test-optional. What does test-optional mean? Test-optional means test scores are not required and an institution lets a student decide if she/he wants to submit the scores or not. If submitted, an institution will take SAT or ACT scores into consideration but may focus on other areas more such as personal statements and essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and interviews. It is very important to know the difference between test-optional and “test-blind”, which means that an institution will not consider any score, even if you include them in the application. Caltech is one such institution. When you do not submit standardized test scores in a test-optional institution, you are still considered for admission. However, you should bear in mind that without test scores, other areas of your application become more important. These include your GPA, essays, recommendation and extra-curricular activities. Benefits of taking the SAT or ACT It is prudent to analyze the trend in admissions before making any decision. Take for example the University of Chicago. Despite its test-optional policy, a whopping 85-90% of the students submitted either SAT or ACT scores during the admission process in the last academic session. Therefore, not submitting test scores can negatively place you away from the majority. Yes, it has a negative impact, as although standardized test scores are not required, they are considered and have an impact on overall chances of admission. Let’s take a look at some the benefits: Staying ahead in the competition Not submitting the test scores can make you fall behind the competition. While scores are not required but fact of the matter is that the scores are considered during the holistic admission process. So if you are thinking of applying of test-optional then you should ask yourself if your grades, extra-curricular achievements and recommendation are sufficient for providing the edge required for steering through the admission process. Especially, in the case of students with application in the cusp, great SAT or ACT score is enough to provide the push required. In a nutshell, SAT or ACT scores enhance your application. Positive impact on scholarships Whether you apply for Merit or need based scholarships, standardized test scores impact them positively. Around 60% of the scholarships require SAT or ACT scores to be submitted as part of the admission process. Even if standardized test scores are not required in a particular scholarship, a high score can still give you a leg-up. Ultimately, the decision of taking the test is purely personal one. But, before making a decision, you should factor in the requirements of the institution applied for. Still apprehensive? Get in touch with us for more information and personalized advising.