Skipping the SAT or ACT: Test Optional Colleges

2020-2021 Applicant note: Due to the pandemic many colleges which have never been test-optional are becoming test optional for the 2020-2021 application season. Some will be extending these policies after the pandemic. Applicants should visit the websites of every college they are applying to and check their current test requirements policies. If it is unclear how the policy applies to homeschoolers, be sure to reach out to your regional admissions officer at the college. Information is changing rapidly.

One reason many parents cite for homeschooling is escaping the current emphasis on high stakes testing in K-12 public education.  This freedom from testing pressure comes to a screeching halt for many students when it is time to take the SAT or ACT.  This can be particularly problematic for students who have test anxiety, undiagnosed learning disabilities or challenges, or who simply have strengths that are not well demonstrated on a standardized test.

While SAT and ACT tests can weigh heavily in admissions decisions at many colleges, there is a growing trend of colleges becoming test optional. Test optional colleges give students who are not pleased with their scores the option to not submit them. Some test optional colleges colleges will not consider scores even if they are submitted. Others allow students to decide to submit scores if they feel they are a good reflection of their abilities and achievements but accept applications without test scores.

Nearly 850 colleges have chosen to become test optional.  For a complete list visit the Fair Test website. It is important to note, that the specific policies vary school to school and for the most accurate information you will want to check directly with the admissions offices from your student’s colleges of interest.  Not every school that lists itself as test optional extends this policy to homeschooled applicants, however the FairTest list will give you a starting place for your research.

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