Is it easier to apply to test-optional schools?

By Maxine Seya

Is the college application process easier at test optional schools?

– E. Burnes, a parent from Altadena, California

SocratesPost Is it easier to apply to test-optional schools?

Just last week, we reported on a university that dropped SAT/ACT from its list of admission requirements. It seems like we’re reporting at least one every week that is convinced these tests don’t predict college or career success — they merely give wealthier students a leg up in the admission process.

Most parents sigh a big sigh of relief when their kids’ dream schools announce the elimination of SAT requirements. Students are happy to avoid the grueling hundreds of hours of studying, filling in bubble sheets. Parents are thrilled to save the thousands on test prep. It’s one less point of comparison among your peer groups and one less thing to do to prep for college.

But it isn’t all smooth sailing from here.

Just because a college is test-optional doesn’t necessarily mean your child will have more free time.

Henry, a Whitman College admissions officer, explained this phenomenon to us recently. Here’s how an admissions insider really considers test optional applications — and it doesn’t seem to point to a more relaxed college application process. In fact, some test optional schools actually recommend you submit test scores.

Here’s why. A snippet from our conversation:

Whitman is test-optional. Why did Whitman decide to do that and how does submitting test scores impact an application if they’re optional? Some schools say they’re optional but they’re quote-unquote optional and not really optional.

As far as the way that we consider testing, probably the easiest way to think about it is: if we have ten factors we look at and every factor is worth 10%, between your extracurriculars and your grades and the testing and your essays.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.