ED1 athletic recruiting, the pre-read, and TO policies

I’ve read many, many posts regarding athletic recruiting and see somewhat conflicting information regarding athletic recruiting and the pre-read. I recognize that AOs want to see an applicant’s materials as part of the pre-read process, sometime around June/July, to determine if an applicant is or is not a sufficiently strong student for the school in question (and, consequently, if they should be encouraged to apply ED1, with a coach’s strong support [i.e., a “slot” admit]).

As part of the pre-read, AOs (apparently) request transcripts, list of senior year classes, and the school profile…and…test scores. Yet, if a school is test optional, I have read that they STILL appear to request or even require test scores as part of the pre-read. Can anyone dis/confirm this? Obviously, requesting (i.e., requiring) test scores seems a violation of their own TO policy. I would love to learn more about the practice, from someone who may know. Looking at NESCAC and UAA schools primarily.

Yes, coaches wanted test scores at nescac and uaa schools. (My son graduated in 2021). All the schools were test optional. My son’s score wasn’t great (he took it after sophomore year intending to take it again junior year, but covid hit).

He passed the preread everywhere, and got 5 offers, including at the most selective nescacs. When he submitted his ED application, though, he did not submit his test score, even though the Admissions Office had seen it as part of the preread.


Just went through this with S22. As @cinnamon1212 mentioned, every coach asked for transcripts, scores, etc. whether or not it was going to be part of the official pre-read or application process - that part will be school-specific. Our experience was with highly selective NESCACs and other D3s, also.

The pre-read process varied. At some NESCACs, it was pretty lax - the coach sent your info to Admissions and he got an up or down. If you pass, you’d continue the process to see whether you had solid coach support later in the process. One highly selective D3, had a much more formal process. Once you had solid coach support (and that’s the trick), there was a ‘pre-application’ (complete with essays) submitted directly to admissions through a special portal. The Admissions Office then issued one of three outcomes: a likely letter, an ‘encouragement to apply’, or a ‘you might do better elsewhere’ letter. You still had to submit a formal application later.

Though all our schools were TO this year, S22’s scores were good (SAT 1540) so they were submitted for the pre-read. Coaches will tell you whether or not to submit your scores with your formal application.

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Agree with the feedback above. It does happen but I don’t think many coaches at these schools will require a test score for the application. As stated above, they may ask for it during the pre-read, then communicate to the potential recruit whether or not they should apply with or without the test.

The coach will request the pre-read items from the potential recruit, at some schools a resume wil be needed. The student will not have contact with admissions.

NESCAC pre-reads start 7/1.

Good luck.

We just went through this with D22. Each school handles their pre-read process a little differently. Some had portals to submit documents and/or writing sample. One was a timed portal to respond to writing prompt and submit documents. Some coaches request documents, and they send on to admissions. Most required: transcript, senior course list, test scores, resume, some required writing.
Even if they ask for test scores, in our experience, you were asked whether or not you intended to apply TO.
One portal asked if we would apply for financial aid and where was that school on her preference list.

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Same experience for my S22 - every coach (NESCAC, UAA, and other conferences) asked for test scores, if available, to be submitted as part of the pre-read, even if the score wouldn’t ultimately be submitted with the application.

After the pre-reads, different coaches had different thresholds for whether to submit the score or to apply test optional.

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With my D22; every coach who had shown mutual interest asked for test scores for the pre-reads or for the reads. These coaches are from D1 & D3 schools; from various conferences including NESCAC. D22 ultimately has committed to a T10 school.
My D22 found out later out of all the recruits her coach has given support via ED’s, 3 recruits were not issued likely letters & ultimately they’re not offered admissions; all 3 recruits applied ED without test scores.

late but wondering if the three D3 athletes had completed pre-reads (so assumably AO was satisfied), full coach support (assumably coach was satisfied), so the failures was:

  • because they didn’t submit SAT/ACT even though the school is TO and the AO was satisfied with pre-reads
  • because the coach suddenly gave his “true” full support to other athletes and basically misrepresented the level of his “full support” to the three athletes?
  • there was massive miscommunication between the coach and AO, resulting in fewer sports recruits than planned?

As I read @scambaby 's post, we don’t know if the denied athletes applied to a d1 or d3 school (especially since most d3 schools do not issue likely letters). Could the school have been MIT, which is well known for having less coach pull with admissions? Or, the University of Chicago (which fits as a “top 10” school that also issues likely letters). Or an Ivy.

whichever the school, it creates a huge credibility issue for that school’s athletic recruiting process, wasting time/energy/opportunity to many athletes and their families

This is par for course for selective D3s. There is always the possibility. My money is also on UChicago.

If I learned one thing from these forums is that it is often athletes don’t really know if the offer was for a slot or a tip. Make sure the coach is clear about it.


in a way, the coaches shoud be equally clear about it, they gain nothing by faking it to several prospects, maybe their sole purpose is to chance having a deeper bench of walk-on athletes… but they’re definitely not setting a good example of governance and behavior for a reputable school

There have been posts over the years on CC where the student thought they had full coach support (and maybe they did), applied ED, and were not accepted. Some were deferred and got in RD. I remember threads where this happened at Bowdoin (that one might have been about soft support) and Wesleyan.

There may or may not be a credibility issue, but athletic spots at these schools are still highly desirable. Certain D3 schools don’t have the same recruiting process as the NESCACs, like MIT mentioned above, Cal Tech, CMU, I’m sure there are more. I still don’t fully understand U Chicago’s process (which seems different by team and some students get LLs, some don’t) and that’s after having several students go thru the process there.

I agree with Tony Grace things are NEVER 100% until the student has the admissions offer in hand. That’s why many recommend students refrain from posting on social media announcing their verbal commitment. They are a coach change away from not having a commitment, to take one example of how things can go awry.


From our families experience, I must say that the coaches were pretty clear and upfront about the process. When our oldest kid was recruited we did not have College Confidential to draw on so it was all new to us though the coaches were straightforward and explained the process correctly.
I would say the general public and the athletes parents have more of the misinformation and wrong conceptions or exaggerations that get spread around the fields, gyms, etc.
In this case, all signs and communication were positive though we did not feel ok until we received the Likely Letter and then admittance.
That said one of our other kids was singled and pulled out at a recruiting event by the head coach and told that they were one of their top recruits, and I believe they were on the short list at that time, though for whatever reason they fell down on the coaches recruitment board, which we knew could and does happen with recruiting. In that case, no-firm offer or commitment either way was made, so no credibility issues.


Every school asked for test scores during pre read even though all were test optional. One school told us that she passed the pre read but needed to apply without the test score unless she improved 4 points. (This was July before senior year). All schools/coaches inferred that pre read results were contingent on ED application.

Coaches are typically very clear in the level of support they are or are not giving if you ask them directly. Daughter had two I y and two top ten D3 schools tell her she was welcome on the team and would have a spot but that coach support was going to another athlete. Confusion often happens when parents and athletes have difficulty accepting the reality of what a coach is saying and look for grey areas.

Pre reads happen to a small pool of recruits but then an even smaller group get offered the coaches support. Just be sure that your athlete asks the right questions and get clarity regarding level of support


Not to go into a TO rabbit whole, but I keep wondering what the schools are after. How is it that her accomplishments simply become not worthy once they see the test score?

Presumably, anyone applying test optional has low scores (whatever that means), so is the motivation simple to artificially inflate the numbers and perceived prestige?

Our of curiosity, do you remember in which published quartile her scores fell? And where would +4 would land it?

At the time of pre read she has a composite 28 (ended with a 30 by application time) and it was in the 50% or lower range at all schools she did pre reads at. 32 would have been bottom of the top 25% range at that school.