Latest Updates on “Test-Optional” Policies

By Gary Keung

(Admissions Consultant at The Edge Learning Center)

Many colleges have adopted a test-optional admissions paradigm since the COVID-19 epidemic, where students are not punished for not providing test scores as part of their application. Furthermore, some universities have implemented a permanent test-optional policy in recent years. So, do SAT scores matter if many institutions don’t require them? Is it true that ACT scores are important? Is it even necessary to take a standardized test? It depends on the circumstances, particularly the individual admissions policies of the school you’re considering.

Some universities have reinstated SAT or ACT requirements.

For the 2022-2023 application period, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, has become one of the first super-selective colleges to reintroduce the need for SAT or ACT scores. MIT isn’t the only one. Applicants to Georgetown University must submit their SAT or ACT scores, as well as public universities such as Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, and the University of Florida. As a result, if one of these colleges is on your list, you’ll need to change it or study for the SAT or ACT.

Should you take the SAT or ACT even if you aren’t applying to any of the colleges listed above? Our general recommendation remains a yes. Even if schools continue to implement test-optional practices after the outbreak, strong test results will aid your application.

While applying to the university became easier, getting into the university did not.

In 2018, the University of Chicago adopted a test-optional policy. The University of Chicago’s average SAT score for eligible candidates increased by 15 points in its first test-optional admissions season, while its acceptance rate plummeted from 7.2 percent to 5.9 percent.

Most applicants still submit SAT/ACT scores to competitive test-optional universities and colleges.

Multiple case studies revealed that 60 percent or more candidates submit test scores, according to a 2020 group led by representatives from Bates, George Washington, George Mason, Sarah Lawrence, and Susquehanna, all test-optional colleges. Around 70% of applicants still submit test scores to Wake Forest University, which established a test-optional policy in 2008, making it one of the first large universities to do so.

Test scores are frequently assessed last at test-optional colleges, and they are often the extra edge that can be the difference between acceptance and denial among similarly strong applicants.


If you are unable to submit scores, your chances of acceptance will not be impacted:

If you don’t feel safe, don’t take the test. We will not suggest that students put their health or the health of their loved ones in jeopardy to achieve a high exam score. Read about the safety precautions being taken at your local testing centers, and make the best decision for you and your family.

If you can’t register because there aren’t enough spots left, you’ll have to make a selection. You won’t be penalized if you can’t get to a testing center.

If your best scores are still sub-par*, it’s generally advisable to use test-optional instead. Your application will most likely benefit from deleting those scores if your best test scores are below the 50% mark for your chosen universities despite rigorous preparation and reasonable faith effort.

*Note that you can select test-optional during application and you can control sending your score or not.

But keep in mind that omitting scores just because you didn’t want to bother is not acceptable. You must put up your best effort as an applicant. It’s one thing if you ARE unable to take the test. However, don’t decide to skip the test just because you feel it is a hassle to prepare for.

Still have questions about your college applications? Schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with us now!

About The Edge

Established in 2008, The Edge Learning Center has grown into a premier one-stop provider of educational services for Grade 7 through Grade 12, targeting students who intend to pursue overseas education. Our three departments – Academic Tutoring, Test Preparation, and Admissions Consulting – offer a broad range of educational services spanning from SAT and IB Test Prep to colleges and boarding schools application counseling. The Edge Learning Center operates in multiple regions including Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam.