September 3, 2015

Test Optional Schools: Does Your Child Need to Take the SAT or ACT?


Can your child skip the SAT or ACT and simply apply to test-optional schools?

Recently some prestigious schools have dropped their requirements for SAT or ACT scores. Why your child may rejoice at this news, most students will still need to take one of these tests anyway.

When researching potential schools, you should always check what the requirements are for admission. While all four-year schools accept both the ACT or the SAT, some may prefer one over the other.

Colleges utilize test scores to determine if a student has strengths in areas that match with their curriculum. They want to know that a student has the knowledge coming in that they can build upon successfully. If your student is applying to a tech school or a science major, the results on the ACT will be much more important than the SAT, which is usually better for students applying to liberal arts schools or majors in the humanities.

Why Some Schools Drop Test Requirements

Over the past few years, it has become clearer to universities that stress and pressure play a large factor in how well a student performs on a test. This means the test scores aren’t always accurate or intuitive of how well a student would do at a university. Due to this, some colleges have decided to make supplying test scores optional.

Some schools, like George Washington University, have changed their policies to strengthen and diversify their applicant pool. They hope to inspire students of all color and background to apply to college so that schools can meet with more prospective students and so that students apply no matter their ability to take a test or the scores they receive if they do take them.

Should Your Child Skip?

This is entirely up to both you and your child. While there are some schools that don’t require the tests, most do. It is usually safer to have your child still take a test-prep course and sign up for the SAT or ACT and try to get the best score they can.

Some students who know they aren’t good test-takers may opt to skip sending their grades to the schools that don’t require them as a strategy to make their application appear stronger. However, this will only work if they are able to present a good GPA as well as a compelling application all-around.

Test Optional Colleges

Some of the higher ranking schools that don’t require these scores are Bates College, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Hofstra University, University of Iowa, and the University of Texas at Austin to name a few. There are many other colleges, both with physical campuses and online learning resources, that don’t require SAT or ACT scores.

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