We all know that the only good reasons for high schoolers to take the SAT and ACT are for college admissions purposes: test scores exert considerable influence in student acceptance and scholarship awards at four-year schools. But are the SAT and ACT really the only standardized tests colleges can use to evaluate prospective students?
If you’re looking for admissions alternatives to the SAT and ACT, forget about upstart admissions tests like the Vector ARC; these exams have yet to be embraced by most schools. Anyway, the exams you’re already taking as part of an academically ambitious course load can do double duty as admissions tests, at least at some schools. All you have to do is look for colleges and universities described as test flexible.
Test flexible is not the same as test optional. Rather, a test flexible acknowledges the value of standardized assessments in the college admissions process to at least put high school grades in context. But these policies recognize options other than the SAT and ACT to serve that objective measurement role, including the following tests:
- SAT Subject Tests
- Advanced Placement (AP) exams
- International Baccalaureate (IB) exams
Does test-flexible admissions work? Jonathan Burdick of the University of Rochester described test-flexible admissions as a demonstration of the University’s holistic review of an applicant, where test scores are only one indicator of a student’s ability to be successful here. Burdick stated that the U of R admissions team has grown more confident in recommending for admission applicants with strong subject testing scores, citing rising selectivity, retention, and graduation rates as proof that the confidence is well-founded.
Of course, most colleges consider AP, IB, and SAT Subject Test scores in admissions without weighing them as heavily as the more admissions-oriented SAT and ACT exams. Still, a growing number of schools are becoming flexible with test scores. As long as test-optional admissions remains more fantasy than reality for most students, standardized exams will play a role in the college selection process. With test-flexible admissions, you can at least choose scores from a broader pool.