Are colleges really score optional?  I get this question about college admissions frequently.  The short answer is yes.  The long explanation is complicated.  Many people fear that if you do not submit standardized test scores on your college application, then the admissions officer will assume you bombed the test(s).  No such thing happens.  They don’t make any guesses or assumptions.  What they do in the absence of test scores, is put all of the academic emphasis solely on your transcript.  That means they are concerned with, first and foremost, what did you take?  At what level did you take the courses?  And what grades did you earn?

During Covid, almost all US colleges became score optional with the promise to re-evaluate that policy in 2023.  Most colleges are sticking with the score optional plan for now.  A few notable exceptions include MIT, and Georgetown who have both returned to requiring either the SAT or ACT.  It is now being debated in the industry whether this score optional movement should remain a permanent fixture in college admissions.

The next question is usually, “Should I submit MY test scores?”   I say that if your scores are in the mid 50% range of the college’s accepted students, then you should.  If your scores are close to the mid 50% range, you debate it and if your scores are not in the range or close to it, then you should opt out of using your test scores.  Many colleges publish their mid 50% range on their websites.  If you are a client of College Consulting Services, you will find this information in your personal portal under the “college profile” section of each college on your list.

Another thing to consider when deciding whether to submit scores or not is the percentage of applicants who are submitting.  Some colleges (usually Ivy League or similar) have up to 85% of its applicants submitting test scores while a less competitive college may have only 15 to 20% of its applicants submitting scores.  If you are applying to colleges with a low percentage of applicants submitting, time prepping for the exams may be better spent on homework for school.

It may be that you will want to use your test scores for the “Likely” and “Target” colleges on your list and not use them for the “Reaches”.  This is perfectly acceptable and the Common Application allows for making changes to your application before each subsequent application submission.  The bottom line is that each student needs to make the test score decision for his/her particular situation and college list.