Wesleyan Test Optional Policy and Statistics on Website?

Hey @InterLoki, I was admitted to Wesleyan as a test-optional ED I applicant, feel free to reach out to me at feldman.daniel@bcchsnyc.net if you have any questions about anything under the sun. Good luck in admissions and hope to see you in Middletown next year!

With respect to statistics, Wesleyan needs to review its recently released CDS. In one subsection, for example, it states that fewer students (26%) originated from the top quarter of their HS classes than from the top tenth (67%).

Hey merc81 and CircuitRider: Have you two ever duked it out about Wesleyan versus Amherst? I just realized from reading some other posts that you two are both very knowledgeable about those particular colleges, both of which seem like great places. It looks like merc81 has a kid at Amherst (and also is an alum, maybe?). And Circuit Rider appears to be the most loyal Wesleyan alum in the entire country. Can you point me to any good posts comparing the two cultures, academics, etc.?

I noticed some strange statistical anomalies about those two colleges. I had heard that Amherst was, on average, slightly harder to get into than Wesleyan, but maybe that’s not right. Wesleyan seems to have slightly higher standardized test stats than Amherst, even though Wesleyan is test optional. Is that because Wesleyan doesn’t count the scores for about a fifth of the admitted students in when it reports its test stats?

25 percent of admitted Amherst freshman who submitted ACT scores supposedly had ACT scores of 30 or below, with 75 percent supposedly having 30 or above. By contrast, 25 percent of admitted Wesleyan freshman who submitted ACT scores supposedly had ACT scores of 33 or below, with 75% supposedly having 33 or above.

Here are the numbers from the Amherst website:

SAT middle 50%: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing: 700-770; Math 720-790
ACT middle 50%: Composite: 30-34; English: 32-35; Math: 28-34

Here are the numbers from the Wesleyan website (which are not presented the same way:

SAT middle 50%: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing: 710-770; Math 740-790
ACT middle 50%: Composite: 33-35 (No details provided on English and Math ACT)

Also, do you know why Amherst freshman do better on English than Math when taking the ACT but better on Math than English when taking the SAT? (I can’t tell whether this is true for Wesleyan freshman.)

You two are both amazing, so I hope you’ll respond.


The Princeton Review probably fairly captures comparative selectivity, and assigned Wesleyan a rating of 96 (on a 60–99 scale) and Amherst a rating of 98.


MODERATOR’S NOTE: I am going to leave JaneW11’s post up. This is CrewDad, who keeps registering over and over and has to be repeatedly banned. Very childish and annoying.

@InterLoki - As you can see, Amherst and Wesleyan have much more in common than than they have in differences: similar main campuses (Wesleyan is a bit more spread out as one might expect with its larger student body); similar town/gown relationship.

All Wesleyan matriculants are required to submit scores regardless of whether they did so during the original application process. So, I am assuming those are the scores that appear on the CDS. Years ago, when Wesleyan had the larger URM population (at one point, the largest among all traditionally white LACs) it had relatively lower standardized scores than Amherst. Now that Amherst has exceeded Wesleyan in terms of need-blind financial aid, there may be some relationship to the variety of academic credentials at both schools.

However, I think it would be nitpicking to base a decision on stats alone.

^Re URM enrollments, specifically Black enrollments, at Amherst and Wesleyan over the past 25 years, there is this: https://www.jbhe.com/2020/02/black-first-year-students-at-nations-leading-liberal-arts-colleges-2019/

[Kudos to @Meddy for providing this cite on the Amherst forum.]

It looks like more colleges are going to go test optional next year. Amherst, Pomona and the UC campuses will be test optional next year but maybe not afterwards.

Meanwhile, the College Board is trying to schedule new test dates.

I still have not seen much on how it works at highly selective colleges.

The next shoe to drop will be in the realm of need-blind admissions.

@InterLoki The Wesleyan score ranges you are quoting are the score ranges for those who were admitted, not those who have enrolled. The Amherst ranges on the other hand are for those who enrolled. The Wesleyan enrolled student score ranges last year were:

SAT middle 50%: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing: 650-740; Math 670-770
ACT middle 50%: Composite: 31-34

(I got this from the CDS 19-20 data, these ranges could be higher for this year)

@BrehMement42 so the 25th percentile for enrolled is only 1320 but accepted 25th percentile is 1450?

@BrehMement42 The numbers that @InterLoki presented are for admitted students (not enrolled), both for Amherst and Wesleyan.


It seems the two schools admit almost identical classes from a standardized testing perspective, but Amherst experiences slightly less of a drop off than Wesleyan when comparing admitted to enrolled student scores.

@smartalic34 oh, that’s really interesting

@Unattswim56 I’m pretty sure, yeah I was surprised as well. Based on last years data on the Wes website, the median sat scores of the admitted students was 750/780 (around 1530), and based on the CDS data the 75th percentile of the enrolled students’ sat score was 740/770 (around 1510) for the same year.

This means that 1093 students with a sat score of >= 1530 were admitted, but only 193 students with a sat score of >= 1510. That means that admitted students whose sat score lie in the range 1510-1600 had a yield rate of <17.7%, which I find extremely surprising.

(ps the numbers may be wrong, over here https://www.wesleyan.edu/admission/apply/classprofile.html they say the admitted class had a median sat score of 730/760, but here https://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2019/04/03/following-record-applications-wesleyan-admits-historically-diverse-class-of-2023/ it says 750/780)

A similar pattern is going to be present for almost every school - the degree of difference between admitted and enrolled student profiles will vary based on perceived prestige/attractiveness of the school and financia resources, so the top universities/Ivies and top LACs will have less of a drop off than their less prestigious counterparts.

^Merit aid and ability to discount tuition and fees for otherwise upper-middle-class families are huge confounding factors.

@circuitrider Should have specified that I meant within a broad peer group (i.e. Wesleyan versus other elite LACs/private universities or Ohio State versus other large public schools).

@BrehMement42: Note that the links you provided in reply #22 refer to different class years (2024 and 2023, respectively), which would seem to resolve your uncertainty regarding the figures.

Several extremely selective colleges have said they will be “test optional” for the class or 2025 and that applicants who submit no standardized test scores “will not be disadvantaged.” Wesleyan does not say this but several colleges that attract similar applicants (including Brown, Yale and UVA) have used these or similar words.

If a “test optional” college does not say that applicants who submit no scores “will not be disadvantaged,” does that mean something different? Does it mean that the applicants who opt not to submit scores probably will be at a disadvantage? Or that they will be at a disadvantage unless they have a good excuse for not submitting scores?

Amherst, Pomona and Wesleyan are among the many colleges that have made submission of standardized test scores optional withlyout claiming not to hold that option against applicants who choose it. Is that sort of like giving someone the “option” of writing “I don’t really want to get in to your college” on the application form?