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...And Another School Goes Test-Required

With Yale's recent announcement that standardized test scores are now required to submit for admissions consideration, the pendulum seems to be moving dramatically towards test-required.

Not so fast. Don't believe the hype. Test-optional is here to stay.

There are too many benefits to test-optional to have the pendulum swing completely to test-required.

Let's count the benefits of test-optional, first for the colleges:

  1. Colleges with test-optional policies generally get more applications which means a deeper applicant pool.

  2. More applications generates greater application fee revenue.

  3. With increased applications, admissions rates go down which makes the school more exclusive and moves the school higher up rankings.

  4. The test-optional marketing message allows colleges to trumpet a student-centered, flexible and holistic admissions process.

But wait, there's more. Let's count the benefits of test-optional for students:

  1. Students drive the testing decision, not colleges.

  2. In test-optional admissions, the test score is weighted less while other pieces of the application are weighted more.

  3. If the submission is optional, test-taking is less stressful and less stress means the potential for better scores.

So with major benefits to both colleges and students, test-optional is not going anywhere.

Regardless, CROSSWALK—along with most college admissions experts—maintains that all students should take the SAT or ACT to see if they can achieve a good score. A good score is defined as the score in the range of admitted students to the schools a student is considering.

If students can get a good score, then they should submit the score. If a student does not get a good score, they can decide to work on improving their score or they can avoid the testing game altogether by considering only test-optional or test-blind schools. Hence, the game is really "submission-optional" even though it is branded as "test-optional."

Yes, Yale may be the latest to go test-required, but there are many, many colleges and universities who will remain test-optional.

In fact, it is not too bold a prediction to say that schools who fear a drop in applications will remain test-optional. On the other hand, schools who already receive a voluminous number of applications—like Dartmouth and Yale—see no fear in going test-required and can streamline their admissions process with a standardized data point like a test score.

Put simpler: Highly selective schools can afford to go test-required. Others cannot.

Ultimately, for the student and families, don't believe the hype of your newsfeed feeding the fear of testing (some of that fear is most definitely funded by the test makers themselves). Many places are still test-optional. Just make sure you play all your cards in this game. Take the test, see how you do, then decide.

You drive the pendulum. Don't let the pendulum drive you.

And if you need help, contact CROSSWALK.

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