An increasing number of colleges in the United States are becoming what they term “test optional.” Still other schools may be “test flexible” or even “test blind.” These terms are not exactly the same thing, and it is important that your student know the difference and consider carefully what each might mean for him.
What do test optional, test flexible, and test blind mean?
According to Fairtest.org, a non-profit organization which maintains a database of schools, more than 850 four-year colleges in the United States are “test optional.” This means that the student may decide whether or not to send test scores as part of his admission packet. If he decides to send scores, he may decide which scores to send. Schools which are “test flexible,” ask students to submit test scores, but the student may decide whether to send scores from the SAT, ACT, AP exam, International Baccalaureate, or SAT subject tests. Other schools use a “test blind” policy and choose not to consider test scores even if students send them.
Schools opting for the emerging trend of the test optional approach include a wide range of sizes, mission, and selectivity, but many tend to be liberal arts colleges with a more holistic approach to admission. More than 1/3 of liberal arts colleges have adopted this approach. Many of the schools who have adopted test optional policies have done so out of a concern about an over-reliance on standardized testing and/or to increase the diversity of their applicant base. According to Fairtest.org, “test scores do not equal merit.” Many schools feel that high school performance is a better indicator of college success than standardized test scores.