Tag Archives: test-optional

If you’re wondering what factors matter in selective college admissions, I’m happy to summarize the list in a few words: ALL OF THEM. When you are applying to schools that accept 10% or less of applicants, nothing is really optional from test scores to supplemental essays. The good news is that not every factor in admissions carries equal weight. A few years back, we shared what really matters in college admissions, as assessed by the NACAC 2018 State of College Admissions report. Much has changed since then, but perhaps not as much as one would think. After all, the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) recently released the results of a 2020 nationwide survey of IECA member independent educational consultants that shared major similarities with the NACAC report. What matters? Grades still reign supreme, both qualitatively (honors, AP, IB) and quantitatively (the higher the better) to admissions officers. SAT and ACT…

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Over 75% of colleges no longer require submission of SAT/ACT scores for admission. Has this been the expected boon for students? Has it led to increased diversity and equity? Dr. Linda Hirsch of The City University of New York invited me to speak about a test-optional admissions process and its unexpected implications for students and colleges. If you still think TO has been a net boon for students or society, watch this video!

Is Sal Khan the most respected individual in education today or just one of the most respected individuals in education? The founder of Khan Academy, the gold standard in academic training videos, has done more to “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere” than, well, anyone, anywhere. While Sal’s been busy launching yet another free academic resource, he recently shared his thoughts on testing, test-optional admissions, and equity in an insightful interview with THE Journal. Here are some of his more salient points along with some editorial commentary: THE Journal: Is the SAT still relevant, now that many colleges and universities have made test scores optional for admission? SK: When I talk to admissions officers, behind closed doors, they will tell you that making tests optional did not remove the need for them to get a signal of college readiness from applicants. The reality is that savvy students continue…

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While test-optional admissions has always been a reality for some college applicants, the current prevalence of this policy introduces an awful lot of uncertainty into already anxiety-provoking process. In previous years, students whose test scores didn’t meet a school’s stated standards often turned their attention elsewhere. These days, more and more students choose to roll the dice by applying without scores–to their detriment. The media has been promoting a story that the last year of expanded college admissions, where more students than ever representing more diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic strata than ever have applied to highly selective schools, represents a triumph of test optional policies. Yet, that narrative remains misleading without data on which students were accepted. We don’t have all the numbers, but professionals I trust on the admissions side have estimated that 85-90% of accepted students to most test optional schools over the past five years sent scores,…

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If you thought the academic year that just ended was crazy, you might not want to look ahead. Anything having to do with college admissions and testing exists in a state of perpetual, exasperating flux. But in the absence of clarity, we can always rely on common sense, right? With so many questions about test optional application policies and uncertain test dates swirling about, my friend Allison Dillard–math professor and author of Crush Math Now and Raise Your Math Grade–has been hosting a series of Facebook Live sessions to provide answers. I first met Allison as a guest on my podcast to discuss high impact strategies to help students succeed in math, and this time she was the host as we tackled a topic on the minds of students and parents everywhere: Do Colleges Still Want the SAT, and Should We Take It In Fall? And, yes, I really do…

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In May 2020, in the midst of the most bizarre semester American college students have known in generations, the regents of the University of California voted to phase out the SAT and ACT tests as a requirement for admission across all nine of its undergraduate campuses. They took this step much further than other schools, who chose to allow test optional admissions for the high school class of 2021 due to inconsistent testing opportunities. UC adopted a position of two years of test optional followed by two years of test blind despite the findings of its own task force that said that test scores were often a better indicator of college success than grades. In doing so, they overrode the unanimous vote of faculty to keep SAT and ACT scores as part of a holistic admissions process. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Too bad New York might follow the same ill-advised…

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