Test Optional Policies May Exclude Homeschoolers

If you have a child 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.

Many question the value of SAT and ACT scores in predicting college success. Nearly 850 colleges have taken the plunge to become test free. Some test optional colleges extend this policy to homeschoolers. For example, Providence College is test optional and home schooled students are included policy. Students who wish to submit ACT or SAT scores will get “full consideration” for scholarships. ” However, most other test optional colleges have decided this policy will not apply to homeschooled or international students. Here’s a few examples of colleges that are test optional for most students but do not extend this policy to homeschoolers:

Wesleyan University in Connecticut is test-optional for most students, but requires homeschoolers to submit the ACT or the SAT and two subject tests. “In addition, home schooled students typically submit additional testing as further demonstration of their academic achievement and/or external validation of their home school curriculum.”

Sewanee, School of the South is test optional and performs holistic reviews on applications. However, their admissions office has decided to require ACT or SAT scores from all homeschooled applicants. Homeschoolers also face the additional requirement of an interview not required of public and private schooled students.

Lewis and Clark in Oregon suggests they understand the wide variety of approaches homeschoolers may take to making curriculum choices. They encourage homeschoolers to apply through the “Test Optional Portfolio Path” which allows students to submit examples of work such as research papers and lab reports. At the same time they make it clear though that homeschoolers submitting the portfolio should also submit SAT or ACT scores, “With limited other information available, standardized test scores for home-school applicants often take on more significance than they might for our other applicants.”

Bowdoin College in Maine is widely listed as a test optional school. Bowdoin does 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.

George Washington University in Washington DC is test optional. In most cases it allows students to submit ACT or SAT scores only if the student feels they are an accurate reflection of their performance. Certain categories of students such as athletes, international students, students applying to the BA/MD program, and homeschoolers are excluded from the test optional policy.

Denison University near Columbustest optional homeschool, 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. Homeschoolers are also required to schedule an interview.

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 homeschool philosophy, curriculum, and methods.
  • Even colleges who will accept students without ACT or SAT scores often require other forms of outside validation such as community college grades.
  • Homeschool families must research every individual college carefully. Do not rely on general information posted online about admissions.

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Quoted in the College Confidential article What a Perfect Score Can – and Can’t Do for Your Future…”Grades, rigorous courses, extracurricular activities, awards and character all matter for selective admissions. Colleges are looking to build a community of learners and citizens and that’s about a lot more than test scores.”  Barbara Hettle, Hettle College Consulting

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