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Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800

The Hatters' Herald

Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800

The Hatters' Herald

Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800

The Hatters' Herald

Test optional: beneficial or detrimental to college acceptance rates

Test optional: beneficial or detrimental to college acceptance rates
Flamingo Tutoring

Up until several years ago, the majority of universities and colleges around the country required SAT or ACT scores in their submission process. However, since several top universities around the country, including Columbia University, the entire University of California system, and many other prestigious schools, implemented a new test-optional policy, others began to follow in their lead. According to U.S. News and World Report, as of right now, over 1900 schools will not require applicants to submit scores for the fall 2024 admission cycle.

Nevertheless, if colleges are getting rid of SAT and ACT score requirements, which used to be one of the most important deciding factors in the admissions process, what is the replacement and is it truly beneficial to applicants? 

To take a look at some statistics, since implementing test-optional policies, the 2022 acceptance rate at Fordham University was 63 percent among students who submitted scores and 49 percent among those who did not. Similarly, Boston College’s 2022 acceptance rate was 25 percent among those who submitted scores and 10 percent among students who did not, according to The Hechinger Report.

What this information conveys is that despite schools sending the message that they’re stepping away from SAT and ACT scores with the implementation of test-optional policies, the effect they have on a student’s application is possibly still present and could be the deciding factor between an acceptance or denial. 

However, on a more positive note, according to DHS School Counseling Department Head, Vicki Carlson, there is no correlation between dropping acceptance rates and the nationwide implementation of test-optional policies. Carlson reassured students that “colleges are looking for a full student.” 

In her words, rather than focusing on whether a test score is submitted or not, “a transcript that mostly has AP courses and Honors courses is one of the things [she hears] most from colleges” on what they’re looking for in an applicant.

Bringing attention to the many schools that have taken it a step further and implemented test-blind policies, Carlson referenced California schools in which, if you choose to submit your scores, “they don’t care” and are “not looking at them.” 

In terms of the trend of dropping acceptance rates, Carlson explained how she more so sees a “decrease in the number of students applying to college” than “a problem with acceptance rates decreasing.” She stated how she’s not even sure many “kids are aware of acceptance rates dropping.” 

Going back to what colleges are looking for in students now that many have implemented test-optional policies, Carlson encourages students to engage in clubs and leadership roles. “They’re looking for you to take an AP course, and you’ve excelled in it.” In response to “the number one question” students ask her on whether “it’s better to get a C in an AP course or an A in an honors course,” Carlson answered that “the answer is “the A in the honors course.” 

Nevertheless, despite Carlson’s reassurance in consistency with the statements colleges with test-optional policies have released, many students are still anxious regarding their SAT scores and the effect submitting test-optional will have on how their application is viewed and compared to those who submitted scores. 

According to high school student Chloe Bakalar, even with test-optional policies implemented in nearly 2000 schools across the country, she “still feels pressure to submit [her] scores.” As a junior, Bakalar expressed her distress with the declining acceptance rates and “can’t help but make that correlation between [rising acceptance rates] and simultaneously rising test-optional policies.” 

In response to the many students with concerns similar to Bakalar’s, Carlson says worrying over statistics depicting higher acceptance amongst students who submitted test scores in comparison to those who did not is “unfair” unless you are aware of “what the score is and what the whole package looks like.” 

She added that “it would depend on the school” regarding whether it’s better to submit a score or not, and as a final message, she “would never tell a student that the SAT is a reason not to go for a further education.” 

So while there’s still much uncertainty regarding what really goes on behind the closed doors of admission counselors’ offices, the fact is that “most schools are going test-optional” and focusing on the unique individual traits of “what you are going to bring to [a] school” is a strong path to take for students applying to colleges.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Saltzman
Jenna Saltzman, Senior Editor
I am currently a Junior and this is my third year writing for Hatters' Herald. I was interested in becoming a writer for this newspaper because I enjoy writing and see it as an opportunity to grow as a writer. Aside from writing, I enjoy swimming on the DHS Girls Swim Team. 

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