Test-Flexible College Admissions

A Growing Trend in the Ever Evolving State of College Admissions:

What was once a maze is now a labyrinth. Not only does the state of college admissions continue to evolve, the rate of change is ever increasing. It seems like only yesterday that Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) were the most important admissions buzzwords of the day.  Today, students face more choices than ever with the increasing acceptance of ACT as an SAT alternative, a newly redesigned PSAT and SAT coming in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and test-optional and test-flexible admissions policies. While most students are familiar with the terms ACT, SAT, EA and ED, fewer are familiar with the terms “test-optional” and “test-flexible.”  Here are brief explanations of these admissions policies:

Test optional refers to a school’s policy to not require the submission of test scores with an application. It should not be assumed that these colleges don’t want test scores or won’t take test scores; neither is true. It merely means that if you don’t want to submit your scores, you don’t have to. There are currently 800 or so colleges and universities that ascribe to this policy.  The rule of thumb in applying to these schools is, “if your test scores help your application, then submit them.”

Test flexible refers to a school’s policy to allow you submit any one of a combination of scores from exams you have taken. These exams may include AP, IB, SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests. Each test-flexible school has a number of variations available to you, so you should check each school’s website to ascertain the best possible combination of test scores for you to submit. This option may work extremely well for students who are taking several AP courses and whose workload may prevent them from spending sufficient time to prepare for standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT.

Though the number of test-flexible schools is relatively small, it is growing. Here is a partial list:

  • Bryn Mawr
  • Brandeis
  • Colorado College
  • Middlebury
  • Hamilton
  • Colby
  • Trinity