How did Test Optional (TO) Admissions Strategy go in 2021

I am curious to hear from anyone who elected to apply TO this year. I am not looking for a debate about whether or not TO is fair etc. I just want to know how people feel it went for them/their child – was it a plus, negative or neutral in your eyes? I am asking as my son is debating whether or not to apply TO this year. He only did OK on his SATs (little prep) and is wondering whether or not to prep all summer and retake this fall or just go the TO path. He is also giving minor consideration to trying the ACT instead. He is not a great test taker (got a 1220) but he does have good grades & strong rigor. For context, he isn’t looking at tippy top schools. Not sure how to direct him on this so was looking to others’ experiences.

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Keep this in mind as being the operative phrase.

I helped a few family/friends’ kids this cycle. The students that applied TO seemed to do great at mid ranked schools. My one friend’s son was accepted to all his matches and safeties with excellent merit awards, but WL and rejected from the two reaches.

For the friends who had kids accepted to Ivies and equivalent, they all submitted strong test scores and I don’t know anyone in our circle accepted TO to that level of school.

What would you consider “mid ranked schools”?

I was accepted TO to an ivy this year (applied ED). For me personally, TO admissions was a blessing. I have very strong academics but I’ve always struggled with standardized tests, and my PSAT score was extremely sub-par for the kinds of schools I wanted to get into. I didn’t get a chance to take the SAT because it was canceled 5 times, but I’m almost certain (although there’s no way of knowing) that I wouldn’t have gotten the 1500+ score that I wanted for Ivy+ schools.

I think that without any standardized test scores, my essays and ECs were able to demonstrate the passion/curiosity schools were looking for. I’d say that if an applicant has strong academics and a cohesive, stand-out application, then I wouldn’t worry too much about submitting vs. not submitting a test score. Granted, this is all from personal experience, and I don’t know the stats of certain schools admitting applicants with vs. without test scores.

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Congratulations! Best of luck to you next year and thanks for sharing your experience.

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Nephew was rejected from all of the schools where he didn’t’ submit scores, but admitted to all of the schools where he did submit.

How did he choose where/where not to submit scores?

If he was on the lower end, he didn’t submit. He has a pretty steep incline in GPA from Freshman to Senior year. His ACT score was actually better than projected given his GPA so he submitted where ever he felt it would help him.

Thanks for sharing . . . that’s helpful. I assumed that was probably the case (since it makes sense) but wanted to make sure there wasn’t some other calculus I missed.

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Ranked 75-125 ish. Acceptance rates between 40-60%.

Thank - that’s helpful!

A friend of my kid’s, with strong academics and an interesting story, had real difficulties with the math part of the SAT, and they were accepted to a pretty selective college from which they may have been rejected had the college not been TO this year.

My guess is that it helped students whos applications was very strong but whose test scores were weak, relative to their applications and to the place to which they were applying, did not affect those whose test scores were the same strength as their applications.

I would also guess that TO didn’t affect those who test score were high, relative to their academics. However, Test Blind application policy had a negative impact on this latter group.

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My son is in the same boat vis a vis the math portion of the SAT - he scored over 100 points lower on it than he did on the reading. He’s actually a decent math student (taking pre-calc and getting a B+ and got A’s in geometry & Algebra 2) but he doesn’t seem to retain it at all. It’s probably because he hates math . . . In any case, I’m not sure how selective the colleges he’ll be applying to will be. I’d guess most (if not all) would fall in the 50-125 range with maybe one reach below 50.

I guided 3 families through the college app process this cycle. 1 went TO, 1 had very high test scores and submitted, 1 had good but not great test scores and submitted. The one with the best results (reach heavy list and accepted everywhere) was the one with the good test scores. He had a unique life story to tell. The TO student did get into a couple of reaches she would not have gotten into with her test scores. The high stats kid had great results but my predictions were correct and her scores just weren’t a big factor.

I think it gave my daughter a bump at a few schools but I’m honestly not sure. She’s got a great GPA, decent but not extraordinary EC’s, very good essays and LORs. Her SAT (taken only once…not a ton of prep because each date kept getting canceled) was 1320. She had one real safety, the rest were 25%-30% acceptance rates. In order of decision…

SUNY Fredonia - submitted score: accepted into studio art program with merit

Denison - TO: accepted for spring 2022, waitlisted for fall with good merit

Skidmore - TO: waitlisted

Haverford - TO (sister is currently a senior): waitlisted

University of Rochester: accepted with merit

Wake Forest: waitlisted

My D had strong test scores and submitted them and still got rejected from 7 schools and waitlisted to ‘mid-tier’ schools, so I don’t think submitting them or not had any bearing to the decisions.

I submitted my test scores to a T50 even though they were below the 25th percentile because my score was from my Sophomore year and I wanted the school to have that data point for reference. I got accepted.

Congratulations to your daughter. It looks like she has some nice choices (if she hasn’t already decided).

Denison! Hoping to get off of the waitlist for fall but excited about spring nonetheless.