Test-Optional Policies

To submit or not to submit.

This is the question many high schoolers applying to college have to decide on. Students are put in a dilemma with the emergence of test optional schools. The college application process is confusing and challenging enough, and this decision between submitting your test scores or not is something that can create stress for a student.
One confusing aspect of test optional schools is that it is not clear how submitting a test score will affect your chances of getting into the school. If someone gets a bad test score, they would be more inclined to omit it, but there is the possibility that submitting a test score, no matter how low it is, is better than submitting no test score at all. Without clear guidelines about how it works, kids are left to make these decisions on their own, which brings stress and anxiety.
Another aspect about test optional schools that creates problems is the hardships it puts on students. Needing to decide between submitting a test score or not can create feelings of inferiority because of the need to debate whether your score is worth submitting or not. Nobody is 100% certain about how the college admissions process works, and this obstacle is another factor that leaves students unsure.
Even though on the surface it seems allowing students to decide whether or not they want to submit their test scores on their college application is positive, as having choices is an objectively good thing, colleges that are offering this option may not be adopting this policy strictly for the benefit of the students. Colleges that use test optional policies can attract more applicants, but then they can also reject more applicants. This makes the college look more selective in their admissions and adds to their prestige.
Applying test optional has the ability to affect you negatively in the admissions process. Even though it is not required to apply with your test scores, it does not mean scores are not submitted by the majority of students. Some people have the misconception that test scores are useless if the school is test optional, which is not the case. The scores are still looked at in the admissions process, and can have an impact on if a person is accepted or not. Not submitting your test scores puts you in a less competitive area, as there are other people who are applying who have good grades and extracurricular activities, with the test scores that fall in the school’s range being the cherry on top of it.
Giving this choice of submitting your scores or not also puts students at risk of losing out on different scholarships they could apply for. Many merit-based scholarships require you to submit test scores, so leaving the scores out excludes you from these opportunities.
Test optional schools look positive at face value, but when you take a deeper look, the faults in this system are evident. Having students make the decision to submit or not creates more stress than is already accumulated throughout the college admissions process. Not submitting scores is an option that can hurt an applicant, either with their chances of getting admitted into the college or getting admitted and losing out on scholarship money. Test scores are not the most important thing in getting into college and are not the best representation of a student’s academic ability, but as of now, it is still an aspect of a student’s resume that holds some weight when it pertains to college admissions, and submitting these scores to college even if they are test optional should be heavily considered.