About half of all four-year colleges in the United States are going test optional for the fall 2020-21 admissions cycle. Some colleges were already test optional. However, due to the pandemic, dozens more are now embracing this new admissions policy, among them some of the top colleges in Texas.
This recent trend towards test optional started following the outbreak of COVID-19. The College Board, who administers the SAT, cancelled a number of test dates which meant enough students couldn't be tested before the application season started. ACT has also faced similar challenges. Both testing entities are now playing catch up by offering more test dates in the fall.
As a result, universities and colleges are planning to rely on a holistic review process. In other words, your application will be reviewed without your test scores. The other indicators such as grades, rigor of courses, letters of recommendations and personal essays will be considered instead. Each university will review applicants against the backdrop of their own institutional goals. To increase your chances of getting in, you must ensure the other parts of your application make a strong case for admission into the university.
Test Optional Colleges in Texas
The University of Texas at Austin plans to go test optional in the fall was outlined in a news release. The university said, “This change will allow the university to better serve potential students by ensuring that testing limitations related to COVID-19 do not affect a student’s ability to apply.”
Texas A&M University (TAMU) has also adapted a similar policy. It's up to the student to to submit SAT or ACT test scores or not with their application. However, this is currently only applicable for students entering in spring and fall 2021.
Rice University also announced a pause in their test score requirement. A few other universities are adopting the same policy. The list of universities that are now test optional, include Texas Tech, Southern Methodist University, Baylor and Texas Christian University.
What it Means for You
Although these universities have gone test optional, they are still encouraging students to submit ACT and SAT test scores if the have them. The Executive Director of Admissions at Texas A&M stated in the news release that "submission of tests scores will not create any unfair advantage or disadvantage for those students who provide them.”
In addition, if a student who applies to Texas Tech is denied admission, he/she will have a chance to re-submit the application with test scores.
The decision to submit or not to submit your score is a personal one that must be taken very seriously.
The move to test optional started long before COVID-19 and is expected to continue afterwards. To get an up-to-date list of test optional colleges, please visit the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.