In light of testing uncertainty due to the Covid pandemic, including cancelled SAT and ACT test dates and testing center closures, more than half of US colleges and universities are now test-optional for 2020-2021, with some adopting permanent test-optional policies.
While thousands of colleges are no longer requiring SAT or ACT scores, that doesn’t mean that college admissions committees are test-blind. (Please see our post on test-blind admissions, here.) Test-optional means that colleges give you the option of submitting standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT. If you do submit scores, the admissions committee will consider them; however, if you do not submit SAT scores or ACT scores, they won’t penalize you. A quick note about Subject Tests: no US colleges require Subject Tests. Yes, you read that right. As of March 2020, there are zero US colleges that require Subject Tests.
So…should you prep for the SAT or ACT since so many schools have gone test-optional?
Current 11th, 10th, and 9th graders should note that most colleges have announced a temporary test-optional policy for one year. Schools will reevaluate their policies at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and some will for sure become test-optional permanently. But many will not.
Class of 2022: Plan for test prep as you would have pre-Covid, as many colleges will go back to requiring test scores. Plus, test-optional has never meant test-blind…and that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. You should also note that some schools that have gone test-optional for 2020-2021 don’t extend the test-optional policy to all applicants. If you are a recruited athlete, a homeschooled student, an international student, or a transfer applicant, double-check to ensure that the test-optional policy applies to you. In many instances, it will not. Students interested in merit scholarships should also check to see if standardized test scores are required for scholarship consideration of any kind. Some schools also have test-flexible policies, which means that students have options regarding what scores they submit (for instance, 2 Subject Tests and an AP exam in lieu of the SAT or ACT). Read more about test-flexible admissions here.
To help with your planning, Expert Admissions has compiled an edited list of colleges that have made test-optional announcements in response to testing disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This is not a complete list of test-optional schools but we strive to keep it up to date, as policies change rapidly.