Effects of Colleges Becoming Test-Optional


Courtesy of The Sagamore

With more colleges becoming test-optional, students will need to rely on other qualities to help get them admitted into their school of choice.

Tiana Salisbury, Photojournalist

Over the past couple of years, many colleges have transitioned into a test-optional application process. This means that when students apply to these schools, they are not required to submit their SAT or ACT scores; if a student does choose to submit their scores, they will not be as significant of factors in the admissions process. 

Recently, there has been an increasing number of schools that have become temporarily test-optional in order to maintain necessary safety precautions. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many students to take the SAT or ACT, and some students are unable to take one of the tests due to such hardships. For example, many test centers have limited their capacity or closed completely, causing some students to have to travel long distances to find somewhere to test. With a weaker emphasis on standardized tests in the college admissions process, what should students turn their focus to?

One thing students should focus on is taking rigorous courses and performing well in them. Students should try to take as many AP and Honors classes as possible while maintaining a good GPA. Many schools look for students who challenge themselves because it shows that they can keep up with the amount of work required in college. Taking harder classes also indicates that a student is willing to work harder to achieve more: a mindset that appeals to many college admissions counselors.

Another factor that is highly considered when applying for college is the extracurriculars students are involved with. This includes sports teams, volunteer experience, and school clubs. Many colleges look to see if a student holds a leadership role in any of their activities, also taking into consideration the amount of time spent with the activity. Although it may seem impressive for a student to have many different extracurriculars listed, college admissions counselors are more interested in students who have committed a lot of time to a smaller number of extracurriculars. Being well-rounded is a good quality, but participating in a certain activity for a long time shows how passionate and devoted a student is to what they do. With this in mind, Ashley Lee (10) says that she “will try to spend more time with [her] activities outside of school so that [she] can stand out when applying to college.”

Students should also recognize the importance of the essays they write when applying to schools. College application essays serve as a way for schools to see the individuality of each student and their personal reasons for wanting to attend the school that they apply to. Every student has their own unique story to tell, making the essay an essential part of the admissions process that shows the personality of the applicant.

Even if the schools that are temporarily test-optional go back to being test-required, students should still do their best to not only score well on the SAT or ACT but also build up other qualities that are sure to impress the schools that they apply to in addition to the ones listed.