Expert Admissions co-hosted a webinar to discuss recent trends in college admissions. We answered questions about how test-optional policies have affected admissions, strategies for the upcoming application cycle, and more. Keep reading for highlights from the conversation.
Although many schools remain test-optional for the upcoming 2022-2023 application cycle, testing procedures are largely back to normal. Our students have been able to test without the complication of testing site closures that we saw at the height of the pandemic.
Most colleges went test-optional during the pandemic, but a few are starting to announce that they will again require standardized test scores — MIT is a notable recent example.
We recommend that students prepare for and take their SAT and ACT exams, even if they plan to apply to schools that are test-optional. We’ve seen that there is better predictability in the admissions process for students who can submit good scores. Keep in mind that a “good score” will mean something different at each institution. Take a look at the reported average test scores for admitted students at each of the schools you’re applying to, and aim to submit scores toward the top of that range or higher.
Keep in mind, too, that test-optional policies have raised these averages and narrowed the range. As students make the strategic choice about whether to submit scores, the scores that are being submitted have been much higher than what we would have seen prior to widespread test-optional policies.
Planning for Next Year
We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of applications, especially at highly selective colleges and universities. Test-optional policies have encouraged students to apply to schools where their scores might have otherwise been an obstacle to admission, and overenrollment from last year left fewer seats in many incoming classes. As a result, we saw acceptance rates continue to drop in the 2021-2022 application cycle (read more about these trends here).
Students may want to start applying to more schools in the 2022-2023 application season. In general, we recommend a range of eight to ten schools, but more important than the number is having a range of schools on your list. Make sure you have a fair number safer schools that you’d be genuinely excited to attend. No school on your list should be an afterthought; your supplemental essays will still need to demonstrate your interest and be highly tailored — don’t take for granted that your safer options are “easy ins.”
And remember that college admissions is not a lottery! Putting together strong applications takes time, and if you have too many schools on your list, you may start sacrificing quality for quantity.
Other ways to be strategic in your applications are to carefully consider where you might apply Early Decision or Early Action and to think about which major (if any) you list on your application. Early Decision and Early Action plans often come with better rates of admission, and at schools that admit by major, some majors are more selective (usually business and engineering fall into this category).
We also took questions on demonstrated interest, extracurricular activities, AP testing, and more. For all the details, watch the webinar at the top of the page.