International student feeling so stressed and unsure because of “test optional”

Hi, I am an international student and SATs and ACTs are not really offered in my country (at least not in my school). There are approaches that I can use to take the tests (e.g. Travelling to another place, do quarantine, and take the tests), but all of them are either time or money-consuming.
I know that almost all universities are still going test optional this year, but I am thinking about applying to Georgetown University and I don’t know if this is a valid reason for explaining why I don’t have a test score. I also heard that from the stats, those who had scores last year generally got better results… But again, I’m not sure if the situation is the same this year. But I am also not sure if it is better for international applicants to have the scores…
My GPAs are pretty good and my ECs are fine, but I am not sure if those from international schools are that recognized or not.
So I really don’t know whether standardized tests worth me taking so much time and money or not…

International admissions are extremely competitive. I’m not sure about the specifics at Georgetown but I can tell you that Harvard takes 6-7 students from India each year and most schools at that level are similar. Most schools prefer students who do not need financial aid but Georgetown is need blind. Do you have a chance of getting admitted? If you do, it will be very small. The biggest thing is if taking the test and travel is a financial obstacle, how will you be able to pay for plane tickets and health insurance if you are admitted?

The thing is, for this year, I am still in grade 12 and if I spend so much time traveling and quarantining, I might be absent from schools and exams… So I’m not sure if taking tests are worthy

I would not worry about not taking the tests. It sounds like a very stressful and nearly impossible challenge to get to testing. Here is a great list of test optional schools, and they mean it:

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If you need merit aid, scores may be required.

As for your international status, I would contact admissions at schools you are interested in to discuss whether testing helps internationals in any way. But test optional means exactly that.

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I agree that test optional will be ok, especially as it sounds like it would be very difficult for you to have access to a test. Applying without a test does mean there is greater focus on the rest of your app.

Regarding Georgetown, they are test optional ONLY for students who haven’t been able to take a test (those who have taken a test or tests, must still report all scores). Georgetown is however need aware for international students, not need blind. There are only five colleges that are need-blind for international students (H, Y, P, MIT, and Amherst). Will you be applying for financial aid?

In the big picture, cast a wide net when applying to colleges. Are there college options in your home country?


If it would hurt your grades and other test scores, I don’t think it would be worth it for you to take the SAT/ACT.

Does your school primarily teach in English?

You might know this already, but Georgetown requires a test that proves English proficiency (IELTS/TOEFL/Duolingo) for all international students. You should take the Duolingo test, as it is online and you don’t have to travel anywhere.

Thanks for the reply! I am not considering FA, but I think it might be a great idea to contact with the AOs. Thanks!

Thanks for the reminder!!! My school is teaching in English, and I do have a TOEFL score already, so I think the English proficiency part is fine.

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Thank you! Yeah I’ll try my best to focus more on other parts if I really can’t do the standardized tests

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The problem with applying test-optional from outside the US is that the schools have less understanding of the value of your GPA, since they may not be familiar with the academic rigor of your school. We do have the same issue in the US, with low-level inner city schools giving A’s for showing up and not being disruptive (in this case, the low standardized test score gives context on how to view that high GPA), or private schools with serious grade inflation (half the class has a GPA>4.0, but surprisingly average standardized test scores). This is why it is so valuable for an international student to submit a stellar standardized test score, along with their excellent grades. It’s another data point to confirm the academic level of the applicant.

There is a HUGE difference between tests not being offered in your school, and not being offered in your entire country! I would recommend that you investigate to see if it is at all possible for you to take a standardized test this summer, and that you prepare intensively for it, to do your absolute best. Honestly, I think that your chances of getting into a highly competitive school in the US without a standardized test score are not good.

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Does your country have a national, standardized, externally examined curriculum such as Maturité gymnasiale, baccalauréat, A Levels?

My school follows a British curriculum, so we are taking a levels

Yeah that’s exactly what I am worried about…

Then, colleges don’t need American tests. They’ll know how to evaluate the GCSE/Igcse/Alevels results or predicted levels.
Some universities (NYU, American) that have lots of internationally educated students, have evaluated them on this basis for decades. Northeastern joined that group a couple years ago.


We called Georgetown few months ago and they told us, Georgetown is not test optional this year.

My take on this matter is this:

If it isn’t offered in your country, and your target schools don’t require it, then do not worry about it.

If somehow you can take it, and you know you will do well in it, then by all means take it. A good score is a good score, it sets you apart, especially as an international applicant (who might be applying from a grading system very different from the US, and you may have trouble explaining how good of a student you are).