Athletic recruiting at top LACs that are test optional

My son is a being recruited as a nathlete at some selective LAC’s. He has a high GPA but his test scores are top 20%. Due to Covid, in 2022, many of these schools are test optional. Does this increase his chances by not sending his test scores?

The short answer is that he must talk to each coach to find out what their admissions department will want to see, both at the pre-read and formal application stages. This is one huge advantage that athletes have, they don’t need to guess at questions like this, since they have coaches who can and should provide straight answers based on your son’s exact gpa/test score/etc. position.


I agree the coach is the best source of info on this. I’d be transparent with coaches on the academics and follow their advice (which might vary by school and coach). Good luck!


I’ve written about my son’s experience this past recruiting cycle. He took the SAT after sophomore year and got a decent but not amazing score. Then COVID, and he didn’t take the test again. His grades are very strong. He was asked for his scores at every single school where he was in recruiting discussions, and the score was submitted to four schools for prereads (another school didn’t do prereads, but the coach told him his score was fine). He passed the preread at every school.

However, when he applied ED to one of those four with a preread, he did not submit the score, although admissions clearly had seen it earlier.

So – absolutely, the coach is the best person to know what’s what at each school; I am just sharing my son’s experience to say the low (for those schools) score didn’t hurt him one bit.


All things being equal, yes test optional might increase his chances. But things are not equal, because many other recruits also may be planning to go test optional. In any event, I am not sure the right question is whether his chances for admission are increased by a given school choosing to be test optional. I would suggest asking the coach where your son is on the recruiting list and whether he passed the pre-read. If he is at or near the top and if he passed the pre-read, then his chances for admission are very good.

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Agree with others - talk to the coach about this as they would be the ones talking with the admissions liaison. My dd had a great GPA and test scores that fell within the 50% range for previous admissions but when it came to ED application time, she was instructed not to submit them by the coach. Her initial score was also known by the coach but not submitted for the pre-read and she received a very posItive read without the score. Coach should know what would be the best option.


Bates. Lots of athletes and has been test optional for decades.


Thank you to all, I will keep everyone up to date as this plays out.


With an SAT score in the same category as your kid, the coach at a T10 school told my 22kid it was a good thing his school was test optional or there was no way they could still recruit my kid. He also said a C+ freshman year could be a deal-breaker with admissions. Your kid’s high GPA is key!

A close friend’s D21 was told not to submit her score to a test-optional NESCAC because it wouldn’t help with admissions. She was admitted without submitting the SAT.

Good luck!


I have a ‘23 looking to be recruited at high academic D3s and also have been wondering about how test optional policies have played out. Would you be willing to share how it went for your kid?

Much appreciated!

All good input, and the coach should have the best handle on it as it does vary by school, sport, etc. The short answer is would the test scores help?
My understanding is that with most top academic schools, the GPA & strength of curriculum such as # of APs, etc. is the bigger influencer. Even with a strong GPA & class schedule, if your test scores are very high, then submit as that is ideal (high GPA + high test scores). For those with a little lower GPA, not as many APs, etc., higher test scores may be needed or beneficial to get by admissions.


What range of GPA are you referring to applying as test optional to these schools? Eg 94, 96, 99 UW? I’m assuming a highly competitive large high school and 3-4 APs each year 10-12th grade. Thank you!!

Reiterating what others have said: ask the coach. My d22 has a 99th percentile score and was advised not to submit because reading was lower than math and lower than what would be advised to submit. She followed the advice and was admitted. If the coach has been there for a few years he/she should have a contact in admissions to help advise. Good luck!

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