Many changes have taken place throughout various aspects of our lives over the past year, and education has not been exempt from experiencing these adjustments. More specifically, the requirements that need to be met within college applications, how these applications are reviewed, and what is included in these considerations, have all been affected. With many students experiencing delayed, postponed, rescheduled, or even canceled testing, as well as additional stress in their personal lives and an adjustment to distance learning, many colleges and universities are approaching the test results differently than ever before. Let’s take a look at these variations of approaches, what they mean, and how it applies to your college admissions journey

A Tale of Two Approaches

While we certainly cannot assume that every college or university falls within these two specific categories, we can observe that a great number of them have deliberated and decided on one of the two. Previously, many educational institutions, especially in prestigious academia, have required standardized test scores to be provided with applications. (Learn more about preparing for these tests here.) This has always been an important factor in admissions decisions, and is one of numerous ways to present your success as a student. 

Now that there are many additional factors affecting the quality of test results, including making the switch from in-person to at-home learning, dealing with the stress of a global pandemic, experiencing an extreme level of insecurity and uncertainty about what furthering education will look like in tumultuous times, and more, many colleges and universities no longer view these results as entirely necessary or unwaveringly indicative of educational achievements. As a result of this shift in perspective, some of these institutions have started making the admissions process either test optional or test blind. 

Test Optional

Many students who have excelled at testing may choose to include their test results in their applications to universities. In a test optional arrangement, these results are not required for admissions decisions, but if they are included in an application, they will be reviewed. This can prove to be beneficial for these students who have had the ability to attend testing and whose scores have not been adversely affected. However, this does create what some argue to be an unfair advantage, because not all students have had the access to testing during the pandemic, or their scores have suffered due to the circumstances. While a test optional arrangement promises to not punish or reward students based solely on whether or not they have provided test results, there is no guarantee that the admissions council will be entirely unbiased, which leads to the discussion surrounding a test blind approach.

Test Blind

Colleges and universities that have chosen to utilize a test blind approach are stating that, even if scores are submitted with an application, they will not be considered as part of the admissions decision. This eliminates the possibility of students who submit scores being favored over those who have not, creating a potentially less biased approach. In most cases, the admissions offices at educational institutions who have adopted a test blind strategy will not even receive these scores, creating a truly blind application process. 

What This Means for Students

For every student, individual responses to the shift in considerations of test results in admissions decisions will differ. Some students may choose to apply only to schools utilizing test optional approaches, and they may decide to include their test results to show off their academic achievements in hopes to set themselves apart from the rest of the sea of applicants. Some students may not want to include test results in applications because their results do not speak to how they perform academically. These students may choose to specifically look for colleges that are entirely test blind, to avoid any chance of being penalized for not including these scores. In reality, many students will still apply to a mix of schools, and whether or not they include their test scores may or may not affect their admissions decisions. It is best to consult with a college admissions coach to decide what is best for you in your endeavor to Cultivate your ideal educational journey. If you would like more information, connect with us today