In the ever-evolving landscape of college admissions, universities continue to seek fair and effective methods to evaluate prospective students. Recently, one notable trend has emerged – the rise of the SAT optional policy; a choice for applicants to submit or omit their standardized test scores in their application. But what does “SAT optional” truly entail, and is it genuinely optional?

Test-optional vs Test-blind policies

To understand the terms involved, it is important to look at the difference between test-blind and test-optional universities. For Test-blind universities, submitting your standardized test scores won’t change your chances of admission whatsoever. These schools may believe that standardized testing is biased and lay more weight on other factors to have a holistic admission process. Test-optional universities, on the other hand, allow applicants to choose whether they want to submit their SAT/ACT scores as a part of their application. According to their official policy, not submitting a score doesn’t put a student at a disadvantage, and in the absence of these scores, more weightage will be given to the other components of your application.

While there is a chance that a great application with an excellent GPA, well-written essays, and an impressive list of extracurricular activities might be overshadowed by a low SAT score, in most cases there’s good reason to submit standardized testing scores.

Why submit your scores?

Applying only to test-blind and test-optional schools without taking the SAT or the ACT might seem like a viable option but, we recommend taking a standardized test for the following reasons-

  1. Strong test scores can bolster your application. If standardized testing is your strength, adding an excellent score to your application would help you stand out amongst a sea of applicants.
  2. Often, scholarships and merit awards have a minimum GPA/SAT or ACT score requirement. Not submitting your scores could automatically disqualify you from benefitting from these opportunities.
  3. A good SAT/ACT score can help offset a low GPA or final graduation grade. You can show universities that you have the potential to do well in college classes despite low grades in high school.
  4. If you’re applying to multiple universities, your university list is subject to change. Taking the test helps you keep your options open and allows you access to a more diverse range of programs.
  5. Even if you get a low score on your first attempt, you can prepare and do better in your SATs through multiple attempts. Thus, there’s always a chance to make your score a strong component of your application.

In conclusion, while test-optional universities are becoming increasingly common, giving students the chance to showcase their abilities beyond test scores, it is important to remember that most students (over 80%) do still submit their SAT or ACT scores. You must evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and decide whether your score would add to or detract from your application. Make sure to stay informed, seek guidance from your counselors, and make decisions that align with your long-term academic goals.