Test Optional Colleges

Sarah Fiala and Gleanne Rosales

When filling out applications this fall, many seniors will focus heavily on their ACT scores to gauge their chance of acceptance; however, a recent trend in application requirements may signal a shift in focus for this year’s seniors and future applicants.

Over 800 colleges as of 2015 have stripped their applications of the ACT/ SAT requirement, leaving score submissions optional.

The lists of 800 includes various Illinois schools, including Depaul and Augustana, forcing many Leyden students to fill that gap in their applications with extra community service, academics, and involvement. For the students relying on their incredible ACT scores, it may be necessary to devote more time to the other areas of an application in order to be what colleges call “well-rounded.”

Schools are eliminating their test requirement due to concerns that these well-rounded students won’t apply if their scores falls below the school’s average. The theory that standardized tests are not effective in ranking students’ ability has led many schools to jump on the bandwagon, possibly making the ACT and SAT obsolete in future generations of college applications.

According to senior, Ronahy Alzagha, a student’s ACT or SAT test score is not as important as other aspects of the application process. “A two-digit number can’t show who you really are as a student, so I don’t think it should be a big determinant on getting into college,” she said. Bright side is, if colleges don’t require test scores, it can get rid of the stress that the ACT or SAT causes for most students. Alzagha believes that test optional could help students focus more on extracurricular activities since colleges may need students to do more outside of the three hour test.

Ms. Christine Schulz, a Leyden counselor, said that if a school doesn’t require test scores, they’ll just look at other things in a student’s application more heavily. “DePaul has had [test optional] for three or four years. It was one of the bigger schools that did, and students have to write four additional essays so DePaul can have something else to assess students with.”

However, the ACT/SAT isn’t just for applications. Ms. Patricia Muldoon, another counselor, said that colleges may still take a look at scores to make sure that a student’s “college readiness” is there. “The ACT also plays a big part in scholarships, so it’s not just for college entrance,” Muldoon added.

Regardless of a student’s ACT score and GPA, this change signals a major shift in the application process. The fact that various colleges are now weighing the ACT as less important, and in this case not required, means that many well-rounded students with lower test scores will have a better chance of acceptance. However, students who were relying on their ACT scores to get them into a good school will have to beef up their applications.