Test-Optional Colleges In 2023 – A Guide By Prep Expert


Congratulations on making it this far in your high school career!

Whether you’re looking for plan B and C college options or you’re just starting your college search, finding a school that fits you is a process. 

In this article, we’ll showcase some of the academic institutions that don’t require a standardized test score for admission. 

When thinking about your post-graduation academic career, you may be wondering, “Does this mean that these schools hold less academic merit or a lower standing?

The answer may surprise you. Simply because a school chooses not to hinge their admission on academic test scores does not determine the academic validity of that institution.

Rather, if you’re questioning a school’s academic standing, it’s good to research their accreditation. 

With a better sense of their ability to instruct you in your field of study, you can make a better decision on which school fits you and your academic needs best. 

Remember, academic accreditation and instruction is only one aspect of the college experience. You’ll also want to be informed about things like:

  • Student admission rate
  • Class sizes
  • Local crime rates
  • Their food and dining options
  • Student life & extracurricular organizations
  • Living arrangements (including dorms, apartments, and co-housing)
  • Other important academic information

Learn the 411 on standardized academic test scores, test optional colleges, and a range of academic options you can choose from post high school graduation. 

What is a Test-Optional College?

Many academic institutions post high school utilize academic test scores to determine a student’s academic potential. 

While this was a common practice to determine admission eligibility across the country, some colleges and universities have taken the step towards making these tests optional

At some academic institutions, taking a standardized test like the SAT or the ACT is not a requirement for admission.

This means that even if you sign up and study for the standardized exam, it’s not required in order to be admitted into certain colleges. 

How Do I Know if a College is Test-Optional? 

While the practice of basing a student’s academic potential on their standardized test taking abilities is slowly changing, some colleges still require a certain test result on various standardized exams.

To find out if your potential college requires a standardized test score minimum, visit the admissions tab on their website. There you can find a host of assorted information about admission requirements, how to begin the application process, and talk with an admissions counselor. 

If you have any questions about the admissions process, a friendly admissions counselor should be available to talk.

Send the admissions team a message with your questions, and get started researching your dream school!

Can I still take the SAT or ACT if my College is Test-Optional?

Even though your school is test optional, you may still wish to take the exam and find your standardized test score.

Some potential benefits of taking a standardized test like the SAT or ACT include:

  • Practicing standardized tests
  • Getting a scope of your multi-faceted academic skills
  • Finding areas for improvement and excellence
  • Basking in your success if you do well
  • Understanding your academic strengths

Whether you hope to show your potential academic institution your progress, or you’d like to keep your scores private, taking the SAT or ACT may be a great way to flex your academic muscles. 

Here are some ways that taking a standardized test can improve your admissions process for potential colleges and universities:

  1. Stand out like the star that you are. Showing off your academic accomplishments is a huge plus when trying to give admissions counselors a full look at your academic success. Whether you’re a stellar math star or you can rock your English class skills, standardized tests can be a place for you to shine. Especially if you are applying to a school that does not require a standardized test score for admissions, sharing your standardized test scores can show that you really know your stuff and help you stand out from the rest of the applicants.
  1. Those scores could = money. For some academic institutions, great SAT or ACT scores translate into better scholarship opportunities for you post high school graduation. These scholarships can often be used for tuition, room and board, books, class fees, and more. Even if your college doesn’t require you to submit a standardized exam score in order to be admitted to their school, it doesn’t hurt to throw your hat in the ring for a scholarship.
  1. Improve your overall academic standing. Are you reeling from a couple of tough semesters when your academic progress really took a hit? That’s understandable, and if so — you’re not alone. Many students have seasons of academic progress that doesn’t look so good on paper. That’s why taking a standardized test can really showcase your academic abilities as a student. Even if your GPA is not one you’re excited about, your standardized test scores can show your admissions counselors that you are a hard-working student with great potential.

Worried about taking the SAT or ACT?

We get it! 

Those standardized tests have a lot of hype. It can be very intimidating to put your entire high school academic career to the test.

You may be wondering, “What if I fail? What if my scores make me look like a bad student or that I don’t study?

No matter what happens, your academic success is not defined by your standardized test scores. You can be proud of the hard work and studying that you put into your high school career. 

If you’re concerned about the test and want help practicing, check out some private tutoring services that are tailored to your standardized exam (eg. SAT or ACT). 

Moreover, you can practice taking standardized tests like the SAT by taking a prep test like the PSAT in your undergraduate years. You can take time to study and get a sense of the material before you try for the bigger test.

And if you take a bigger test like the SAT and don’t like your scores – that’s ok. You can practice and take the test again to try for a higher score. 

Remember that many things describe your potential as a student, and you don’t have to hinge your entire success on your academic scores. From your hard work and late night study sessions, to your extracurricular activities like sports or theatre, to your overall high school GPA: there are many scholastic attributes that each student is endowed with.

The goal is simply to highlight these strengths to your school of choice as you see fit. From positive letters of recommendation, to a personal statement of your goals and dreams, to standardized test scores and more – you are an incredibly valuable student and your school would be honored to have you!

All the best in your search for post secondary success as you explore a wide world of opportunity. When you try and fail, remember to keep trying again!

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