Is applying test-optional right for you?
Test optional admission policies became prevelant when schools had no choice but to waive the requirement for students who were unable to sit for exams in 2020. Many schools realized that test scores were not as important a factor in determining the ability of a student to succeed in college.
As a growing list of colleges are introducing test-optional processes in their admission decisions, you may be wondering: should I submit my test scores? There are several factors to consider when deciding whether submitting your ACT or SAT scores is the right decision for you.
Will your test scores help or hurt your admission prospects?
You will want to research a school's median range of scores. If your scores fall within that range, or are above that range, they will probably help you in the application and scholarship awarding process. If you fall below the minimum standard scores that a college publishes, then applying without submitting your test scores is probably a better decision for you. For reference, at Bellarmine, for those who choose to submit test scores, the 50th percentile ACT range is 22-27 and SAT range is 1060-1260
In general, if you are submitting a score, the minimum we look for on the ACT is a 21 or 1040 SAT. If you fall below the minimum or feel your test score does not accurately speak to your academic abilities, you may want to choose to apply without submitting test scores.
What else do colleges look for when you apply and don't submit test scores?
Colleges that allow you to apply test-optional will look at a variety of factors to determine admission and scholarships: interests and involvements, leadership and work experience, recommendations, and of course your GPA and the level of difficulty in your course work. Before you make a decision about whether to apply test-optional or not, think about what you’ve accomplished during your time in high school.
Were you on athletic or academic teams or president of the pep club? This demonstrates that you can juggle both school and involvements and may be a great student in college. Did you work a job in the afternoons and on the weekends? This is a key indicator of your ability to do more than just complete your school work, which is an indicator of persistence and therefore ability to succeed in college.
Does your recommendation really matter?
Think about who you are going to ask to provide a recommendation. If a teacher or guidance counselor can speak well of your academic initiatives and outside interests, this can make a significant impact on your application. Often, transcripts and test scores don’t provide enough information for an admission representative to get to know your potential. A trusted teacher or college counselor who knows your abilities and can elaborate on the WHO behind the paperwork can make a dramatic difference in your college application process, whether you are applying with test scores or without.
Should you apply test optional?
The decision of whether or not to submit test scores can only be made by you. It might be worth asking yourself whether you think your scores accurately reflect your abilities. If they are not something you think will make your application look better, then don’t submit them. There is no need to let scores from one day in your high school career deter you from applying to college and being awarded a generous scholarship. You've got four years of life that can be included in your application and a test score is just one small part.
At Bellarmine, students receive the same scholarship consideration regardless of whether they submit scores. So there is no reason to worry if your scores are not exactly what you wanted them to be.