More than 800 colleges and universities now offer students the option of submitting entrance exams. With the advent of the College Board’s “revised” SAT, which appears to mimic the ACT, more students are selecting the test optional choice. However, students who decide not to submit scores should be not be lulled into complacency, thinking that they can simply complete the application form without the scores. Many schools require that applicants provide additional information that will replace the scores.
For instance, according to an article in the October Education section of the New York Times, Brandeis University requires “test optional” applicants to submit graded tests, SAT Subject Test or Advanced Placement Test scores. Some colleges require additional essays. “Some colleges have cut offs: George Mason University non-submitters must have a 3.5 GPA and rank in the top 20% of their schools.” At this university, home-schoolers, and students applying for entry into the math, pre-med, or engineering programs must submit their SAT or ACT scores.
Students should consider the following: If their test scores are very high, but their GPA’s are low, admissions officers may consider that discrepancy a sign that the applicant is not working up to his potential. On the other hand, if a student has a high GPA and mediocre test scores, she may think that her scores may hinder her admission status, In that situation, she might decide to go the “test optional” route.