If you have a student who does not test well on standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT, test optional colleges may be appealing. These colleges do not require tests to be submitted as part of the student’s college applications. FairTest has compiled a list of test optional colleges.
While nearly 850 colleges have taken the plunge to become test free, these policies do not always apply to homeschoolers. Here’s a few examples of colleges that are generally test optional but do not extend these policies to homeschoolers.
Bowdoin College in Maine is widely listed as a test optional school. They do not require SAT or ACT testing for most students. However, they have an exception to that rule for homeschooled students and students who attended ungraded secondary schools. These students are required to submit not only the SAT or ACT, but also two or more SAT subject tests including math and science.
Denison University near Columbus, Ohio is one of the Colleges that Change Lives. Denison is test optional for most candidates but homeschoolers are subject to a different policy. They are required to submit SAT or ACT scores as well as a detailed portfolio including a transcript and course descriptions.
St. Michael’s in Vermont is a test optional school except for homeschoolers. Their homeschool policy states “Because of the nature of homeschooling it remains in the applicant’s best interests to submit as many objective assessments, including SAT or ACT scores, as are available in order to help us make the best assessment of the student’s academic preparedness for college-level work. We also recommend that you submit syllabi and reading lists for each year of high school, as we want to see that you have studied the necessary high school graduation requirements. We often rely more heavily on standardized test scores when reviewing applications from home schooled students.”
When it comes to looking at test optional colleges homeschoolers should remember:
- Even many colleges that list themselves as test optional may not apply this policy to homeschoolers.
- Be prepared to provide a detailed explanation of their curriculum and approach.
- Even at colleges who will accept students without ACT or SAT scores, other means of outside validation such as community college grades will carry more weight.
- Homeschool families must research every individual college carefully. Do not rely on general information posted online about admissions.