As the College Board and the ACT pause for summer break, rising seniors are taking a closer look at their test results so far, and some aren’t too happy with what they see.
Either the scores don’t fully reflect hard work and college potential, or they’re just below what may be expected at dream schools.
For many, this means more intensive summer prep in organized classes, with special tutors, or just sitting at the kitchen table systematically going through practice tests.
Others will simply rethink college lists and begin the process of considering schools with different expectations.
But really smart students will take a closer look at the nearly 850 test-optional or test-flexible colleges and universities listed on the FairTest website.
These are institutions—both private and public—that have chosen to reduce the importance of standardized testing in admissions decisions.
In other words, these colleges leave it to the applicant to decide whether or not to take the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests and report the results as part of their application because
- de-emphasizing tests attracts more students who are academically capable;
- dropping tests leads to greater diversity as the focus on scores deters otherwise qualified minority, low-income, first-generation, and female students from applying; and
- high school performance—expressed as grades or class rank—is the best available screening device for college applicants.
And contrary to popular belief, there are some pretty wonderful colleges and universities on the FairTest list.
Here are five “most selective” liberal arts colleges with either test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies (next week we’ll look at selective test-optional universities):
Bowdoin College, Brunswick ME
Bowdoin has not required applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission since 1969. For candidates electing to submit them, however, test scores will be reviewed along with other indicators of academic ability.
Smith College, Northampton MA
SAT I or ACT scores are optional for U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. Standardized tests (SAT I, ACT, TOEFL or IELTS) are required for international students.
SAT II subject tests are optional for any applicant.
Bates College, Lewiston ME
The submission of standardized testing, such as the SAT I, SAT II, and the ACT, has been optional since 1985. About one-third of each class at Bates enters without submitting testing in the admissions process.
Colby College, Waterville ME
Colby requires official results of one of the following three options: the SAT, the ACT (preferably with writing), or SAT Subject Tests in three different subject areas of the applicant’s choice.
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley MA
Because standardized tests don’t measure the full range of an applicant’s intellectual and motivational qualities, Mount Holyoke does not make them a required part of the admission process. Home schooled applicants, however, do need to take the ACT or three SAT II subject tests.