The Trend Behind Test Optional Schools


Gabby McCutchan

In order to ensure that everyone has an equal chance in applying for college, colleges have started to become test-optional.

Gabby McCutchan, Section Editor

In order to ensure that everyone has an equal chance in applying for college, colleges have started to become test-optional. 

That time of the year rolls around, and in the distance a relentless wave of groaning juniors can distinctively be heard: SAT Testing Day.

SAT and ACT season are amongst some of the most stressful for high school students, between the actual studying and the anticipation of the results two weeks later, testing season most definitely adds some gray hairs to the heads of high schoolers. 

But as of recent, more and more colleges have begun to jump on a new band-wagon that just recently took its course: going test-optional. It sounds a bit sketchy at first, but the concept of a test-optional school actually provides some students with more advantages when applying for colleges. 

We all go through that feeling when we get back a test with a test score that doesn’t accurately represent our intelligence. Polly Bowman (12) says, “It’s very hard to get back an SAT score that you can actually be happy with sending to colleges, especially if you think that it doesn’t truly show what you can do academically, which is why the idea of going test-optional is more welcoming and less stressful.” It is important to take note that by going test-optional, you are inviting them to take a closer look at your GPA as well as your overall grades throughout high school. 

A number that is quickly nearing 1,000 is the number of colleges that have decided to go test-optional. A majority of test-optional schools are liberal arts colleges, such as Hamilton College, Pitzer College, Skidmore College, and Colorado College (Cappex). Test optional schools are very rarely either universities, or ones with prestigious names. 

SAT and ACT scores have been found to have a direct correlation with a family’s income, meaning that test optional schools are allowing for lower income students and first-generation students to have more of a standing chance to get into college compared to their peers. 

University of Chicago, who has an extremely selective 6% acceptance rate established a test-optional policy for admissions starting for the class of 2023. For it’s latest admitted class, UChicago saw a 20% rise in low-income and first-generation students thanks to the test-optional option (USNews). Tommy Renteria (12), says that “It’s super important to make sure that students from low-income families get as much help as they can, since their situation is the hardest to deal with when it’s time for college applications.”

A test that does not accurately define one’s intelligence is increasingly becoming less a definite and concrete aspect when scanning a college application. For some students, this is a godsend. A test optional future will pave the way for more equality and quality to the college process. For an entire list of the 900+ schools that have gone test-optional, click here.