Test Optional is not Test Blind
As so many colleges and universities announce that they will adopt a test optional admissions policy for this fall, you may be wondering what that really means. Here is something you need to know: Test optional does not mean test blind. Until a recent announcement that the Cal State University system will suspend the use of ACT/SAT scores for admissions evaluation for Fall 2021, only Hampshire College in Massachusetts and Northern Illinois University had a test blind policy. Test blind means that any test scores submitted by an applicant would be omitted from the record and not considered at all in the admissions process.
Test optional gives the applicant the choice to submit the scores but does NOT speak to the way tests will be used in the admissions process. Schools began to implement test optional policies as a way to increase access to college for underrepresented populations and to diversify the applicant pool. When test scores are submitted to test optional schools, they will absolutely be considered. When a student applies without scores to a test optional school, you can be sure that the school will more carefully scrutinize the other aspects of your application and more weight will be placed on the quality of the other factors submitted. Competition increases for admission to a test optional school, because application volume increases while available spots are the same.
So, should you submit test scores to a test optional school?
1) You are a strong test taker and your test scores will help make you a more competitive candidate
2) You are hoping to qualify for merit-based scholarships
3) You are in need of as much financial aid as possible
4) You are hoping to join an honors college
5) You are applying to a highly selective academic program or one which requires significant demonstration of quantitative aptitude, for example. Typically these programs will indicate that the test is still required.
6) You are applying to a combined undergrad/graduate or professional program
7) You are applying as a college Division I or Division II athlete (NCAA still requires tests for now)
If you do not have competitive test scores and you have the option not to include them with your application because you are planning to apply to a test optional school, leave them out. Let the admissions officer wonder what score you might have gotten rather than have proof that your score was not competitive for their school.