If a school or program has a test-optional admissions process, each applicant gets to choose whether or not to submit their ACT or SAT scores. In other words, submitting your test scores is not a requirement for admissions. Usually, this policy applies broadly to all applicants. Still, you should always check the policy details to see if the school recommends or requires that certain types of students submit their scores for admissions. For example, some schools may not require test scores for admissions, but they still prefer or require test scores for certain scholarships or acceptance into an honors program.
If you decide to send your test scores to a test-optional school, the admissions committee will consider them when making an admissions decision (test-optional schools differ from test-blind schools, where test scores are completely ignored by admissions). With test-optional schools, it’s up to you to determine whether your scores will add to or detract from your application, but a lack of scores won’t count against you. If you choose not to submit your scores, the admissions committee will put more weight on the other pieces of your application, so you’ll want to make sure the rest of your application effectively highlights your strengths.
How to Decide What's Best for You:
To test or not to test? If taking a test is an available and affordable option and you feel safe doing so, taking the ACT or SAT can help you make an informed decision on what to include in your application. If cost is a concern, free study books and test prep resources can be found online, at your local library, or even through your high school. Many states already automatically cover exam costs for public school students, and, in other states, select students may qualify for SAT or ACT fee waivers that eliminate exam registration costs. When signing up for the test, be careful to select the option to see your scores before you determine whether to submit them to colleges. That will also help you to decide whether you want to retake the test to see if you can improve your performance. To submit your scores or apply without them? After you have your scores, there’s another question to answer—and this one can feel trickier. Should you share your scores or apply without them? Remember, this decision is entirely yours, and what is best varies on a case by case basis. In general, if you have high test scores, submitting them can potentially bolster your application.
There is a rising popularity in test optional admissions, primarily due to the pandemic. Yet other factors are also at play, and many schools had been considering or using test-optional admissions before 2020. This is because making test scores optional can provide more equal admissions opportunities for those who are unable to take (or retake) the SAT or ACT test for any reason, including limited access to testing sites.