The Ivy Coach Daily

September 17, 2021

Testing Optional

If a school is test-optional, we say send in those test scores (photo credit: Alfred Hutter).

Thinking about not sending in test scores to elite universities this admissions cycle? Think again. As we’ve long suggested on the pages of this college admissions blog, test-optional policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. All else being equal, at a school with a test-optional admissions policy, a student with a great SAT or ACT score will always have an advantage over a student who doesn’t submit an SAT or ACT score — irrespective of what the school’s admissions officers may tell you to the contrary. Remember, they’re marketing for their schools. They want students to apply — no matter their qualifications. And why? Because the more students who apply, the lower their admission rate will be, and the higher their school will be ranked in the all-important US News & World Report ranking (this year’s ranking just came out this week!).

But we’ve said all this before. Sometimes, you see, we just like to hammer home a point because it’s so important and if we at Ivy Coach don’t stand on our soapbox and lift our voice to challenge the accepted wisdom in elite college admissions, who will? Well, a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education will, it seems. Eric Hoover penned a great Tweet today that we happened to catch. It reads, “You don’t have to send test scores, but if you want to, we would totally welcome them oh so much. But you don’t have to. Up to you. Go ahead and send them if you want. Or not. No pressure at all. Totally up to you.” Well said, Mr. Hoover! Well said.

It kind of reminds us of Georgetown University’s language. As Sarah Weber writes for The Georgetown Voice, “While Georgetown still encourages students to submit test scores as part of their application, the admissions process will not penalize students who do not submit SAT or ACT scores…Georgetown will allow AP test scores to cover the previously optional, although highly recommended, submission of SAT subject test scores. As with SAT and ACT scores, applicants are asked to submit scores from any SAT subject test scores they took prior to the pandemic, though it is not required.” In other words, send them. Don’t send them. No, send them. If you want to. But you don’t have to.

At this juncture, the vast majority of elite universities still have not released the percentage of students who earned admission to the Class of 2024 without test scores. Why not? What exactly are they hiding? And of the few elite universities that have released such figures, including at Georgetown, the numbers show a clear advantage for students who submitted scores. Now, remember when Ivy Coach faced an attack on the National Association for College Admission Counseling listserv for daring to argue that, all else being equal at test-optional schools, students with great test scores have an advantage over students with no test scores? Well, it looks like we got the last laugh. It seems Mr. Hoover would agree.

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