What does “test optional” mean for your student?

There is a growing group of schools that have chosen to stop requiring college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.  The most recent of these schools is the very selective liberal arts school Bryn Mawr which only accepts about 40% of those who apply.  By making this decision, they join the ranks of schools like Wake Forest in Winston-Salem NC who was a leader in the test-optional practice for highly selective schools. Poor test takers across the world are breathing a sigh of relief as we speak.  Don’t let all that breath out just yet, however, because the practice isn’t wide spread and the test optional student better have an impressive resume, otherwise.

So, what does this mean for your student?  Ultimately, for students in the Midwest coming from middle income families it doesn’t mean much yet.  Going forward, it means that we will have tons of great research available about whether or not the SAT and ACT help determine college readiness.  For now, the majority of the schools that have chosen this practice are somewhat selective small liberal arts schools.

If a school doesn’t look at test scores, how do they determine whether or not to admit a student?  Depending on the school, they will look at a variety of factors including things like:  grades, the level of challenge in their curriculum (rigor), interests, essays, interviews, letters of reference, extracurricular activities, etc.  Essentially, either a well-rounded student or a student they refer to as “pointy” is a good candidate.  A “pointy” student is one that shows a great deal of talent and/or interest in a really focused area.

For more questions about the role of college entrance exams in the college application process for your student, contact me through my contact page.

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