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

That’s great. My sister is actually a proud Denison grad. I’m sure she’ll have a great experience.

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My friends were TO.

They both got into NYU. One got into STERN and the other got into Art & Science, and was invited for honors.

Another girl got into USC.
My friends who got into ivies though all gave test grades.

Thanks for the info. Best of luck to you, and them, next year!

My son got 34 ACT as a sophomore and was aiming to improve to 35 when taking as a junior which did not happen due to COVID (we’re in California), so he decided not to submit his ACT score as he thought that it would make him look not as high-stat as just presenting himself as 3.9 UW/ 4.3 W GPA and all 5’s on APs (Calc BC, CS, Chem, Physics) and 800 on Math 2. The only exception was 3 schools on the east coast where he did submit his 34 ACT score since he was hoping for some merit scholarships (NEU, Stevens, Tufts). UC’s were test blind, so not included in the list below.

Accepted - CU Boulder, UT Austin, UIUC, UW (P&G scholarship), Stevens ($30K/yr merit)
Waitlisted - Northeastern, U of British Columbia
Rejected - Stanford, CMU, Tufts, USC

I’d say all his rejections were from reach schools, so I don’t think test scores were pivotal anyway. I think his unique activities and essays helped him get more acceptances than we could hope for since his higher stat friends who did send in stellar test scores (crossed state lines for test) got rejected by UIUC, UW and UT Austin.

Test Optional and Test Blind definitely were a plus for this household. She got a 960 on the PSAT, never took SAT/ACT, and might have ended up in community college otherwise. As a warning, her list is reach heavy. The school uses SCOIR, which I don’t think labeled targets and likelies well because it based it only on whether students with a similar gpa got in during previous years. But the following is how SCOIR categorized her colleges.


Stanford - REA- Denied

Caltech - Denied

Berkeley - Denied

Harvey Mudd - Denied

Pomona - Denied

Claremont McKenna - Denied

Pitzer - Waitlisted


UC Davis - Waitlisted

UC Santa Cruz: Accepted and Enrolling


Scripps - Denied

Occidental - Denied

Santa Clara - Waitlisted

Loyola Marymount - Accepted

Pepperdine - Accepted

University of San Francisco - Accepted

San Francisco State - Accepted

University of the Pacific - Accepted

We have SCOIR at our school as well but haven’t used it to recommend schools yet so this is interesting feedback. Congratulations to your daughter and best of luck to her next year!

If you have a test score, it uses that in addition to the gpa, which is probably more accurate. But it’s still based only on whether students with those stats got in - not how many with similar stats DIDN’T get in. So that’s where I’d be wary and make sure to consult the scattergram. But I think the developers did their best at an algorithm for even TO, so I appreciate the effort.

Yeah, I take it all with a grain of salt since you don’t know anything extra (ECs, hooks etc) about the kids who did/didn’t get in (sometimes with very similar stats). It just helps to see if your kid is in the general ballpark, stats wise, of kids who were accepted. Certainly not any kind of guarantee!!