Test scores popping with TO -- will they return to earth?

Welp, just saw test scores for this past cycle. Up significantly for the highly-rejective schools and cascading down from there – several at the 35-36 range for ACT. Suspect it is due to TO and only kids w/super high scores submitting. Question is, will this continue, or will scores return to pre-pandemic levels at schools that again require score reports? My D23 thought she was OK with a 34, but with these new ranges thinking perhaps needs to retest.


TO is definitely skewing the average as only those within or above are sending in scores. As for it coming back down? I doubt it. Most schools will remain test optional. My sense is ACT/ SAT will now be a sort of “extracurricular” that only the best test takers will even bother to participate in. I also predict that although schools will remain test optional, they might start implementing specific merit awards for ACT/SAT scores that are separate from merit already established for GPA.


I think test score ranges will definitely come back down . First, some schools have added verbiage to their websites encouraging score submission with some even encouraging submission of all scores, even though they are “test optional”. Both top private high schools and the big public magnet here strongly encourage submission of scores unless one is well below the pre-covid 25th percentile, and all are giving similar advice that test optional is mainly for kids who truly have no scores or have significant barriers to taking the test. MIT has gone back to requiring scores and I suspect others will too, eventually. It seems as though, from what we are hearing in our area and reading the changing college website language at top schools over the past 18 mos, tests are desired by schools more than the schools let on, for most applicants. Which will lead to more submissions and the ranges shifting back toward pre-covid ranges, eventually.

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Curious which schools you are referring to? I know some highly selective schools aren’t reporting scores while they are still TO because of the skewed scores. I am guessing students who go TO are those who aren’t scoring at least 34. Schools are still taking students who are TO … I know someone who was accepted to a HYPSM as TO this year.

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I think you need to look at the bias of the schools you are hearing that from. Private and magnet schools need to flaunt SAT scores to attract students. If SAT/ACT scores become truly optional or even blind they lose a big part of their marketing.

My kid goes to a private school that has never really cared about test scores and has always kept a list of test optional schools. Their view has been that many kids that already know they hit the other stats for the schools they are interested in aren’t even bothering with the stress of taking the tests and that they think more schools with stay test-optional/blind.

Multiple high schools are recommending submitting because they are seeing a definite difference in admissions results , with submitters doing overall better than non, esp for 2022. One (not ours) has shared data with parents. TO , outside of the colleges that have always had TO, can be a negative from these high schools(where there are no barriers to testing). And, many highly selective colleges have shifted their wording towards encouraging scores. People can take it or leave it, but the facts are that tests are still important for many schools and for applicants from certain high schools/backgrounds.


I’d suspect if she gets turned down at a highly rejective school, it’s not going to be bcuz of a 34 IMHO.