We’ve written extensively over the years about colleges that no longer require SAT, ACT, and/or SAT Subject Test scores, test-optional colleges as folks in the college admissions community like to call them. And we’ve shared with our readers the real reason certain colleges do choose to go test-optional, one articulated very well by journalist Stephen Burd. Recently, Barnard and Columbia — technically (with an emphasis on the word technically) — joined this growing list. No, they didn’t eliminate the requirement that students submit SAT or ACT scores. They didn’t go that far!
Barnard recently eliminated its requirement that applicants submit SAT Subject Test scores. The all-women’s college also dropped the requirement that students submit an essay score for the SAT or ACT. As reported by “USA Today,” “Barnard will be the fourth college of the Seven Sisters — a group of historically women’s liberal arts colleges in the Northeast — to nix the essay score requirement, and the third of the group to drop the Subject Test requisite. So applicants for future classes won’t have to submit these scores.” Columbia University, which has a unique relationship with Barnard, also recently dropped its SAT Subject Test requirement and the requirement that students submit the essay score from the SAT or ACT. UPenn, Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton don’t require SAT Subject Test scores either.
That which is “optional” in highly selective college admissions should not be considered optional at all.
But before college applicants and their parents get too excited, know that we strongly, strongly urge applicants to submit SAT or ACT essay scores as well as SAT Subject Test scores irrespective of whether a college such as Columbia or Barnard requires them. After all, that which is optional in highly selective college admissions isn’t actually optional…that is if you wish to get in. The fact is that colleges such as Barnard and Columbia still very much wish to see these scores and they’ll always favor the student who has great SAT Subject Test scores over the student who doesn’t submit them. Indeed if a student doesn’t submit these scores, the school will assume the scores simply weren’t very good.