Test-Optional or Test-Blind College Admissions? A Word From Our College Counselor

You may have heard about some colleges and universities going test-optional or test-blind. What does that mean? Here’s a word from Brookstone’s Director of College Counseling, Bob MacLellan.

There have been many changes to the traditional college admissions process because of Covid-19 – from virtual college tours to zoom interviews just to name a few.  However, the biggest change that will affect the Class of 2021 and potentially beyond is the use of standardized testing.

In the wake of closed testing sites and limited access to testing sites this fall, many colleges have changed their testing requirements. Hundreds of colleges have gone test-optional or test-blind. Test-optional means SAT or ACT scores can be submitted or not for use in the application review process. Test-blind means that SAT or ACT scores are not required at all and will not be used even if they are submitted. The list of colleges altering testing requirements changes almost daily. The best website to keep up with the changes is www.fairtest.og.

What does this change in testing policy mean for potential students? It does not mean that colleges will be easier to get into. Colleges will still have the same number of spaces to fill as they have had in the past. What the change does mean, however, is that for students who might not have had multiple opportunities to take a test, or simply don’t test well, will now have the opportunity to apply to colleges that they might not have considered because of their test scores.

Many competitive colleges have been test-optional or test blind for years. What those colleges look for in applicants is a strong academic record, excellent essays, and depth over breadth in extracurricular involvement. Letters of recommendation from teachers the applicant had during their junior year are also important. Without using test scores, colleges are able to complete a true holistic review and really focus on institutional fit. It is important to remember that even before the current testing issues came about, colleges always considered a strong academic record the most important factor when making admissions decisions.

As students look at colleges, I encourage them to consider those colleges that have changed their testing requirements. There are some fantastic schools that now might be in reach because students have the appropriate academic background.

For more information about Brookstone’s college counseling department, click here.


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