Why Take the Tests Even If I am Applying to Test Score Optional Colleges? While roughly half of my college coaching students in the most recent cycle elected to submit their test scores, I advise ALL students to at least take the tests and see what they get. 


  1. Taking the tests can’t hurt you, and even at test-optional institutions, having strong scores can put competitive candidates over the top and increase their odds of acceptance.
  2. Test scores can be improved. Sometimes even if students are shy of the average required score, even a couple of sessions of SAT/ACT tutoring can help them level up their scores and reach the target threshold.
  3. Test scores can qualify students for merit aid that they would not otherwise receive.
  4. Some colleges require test scores from all transfer students. Better to have the short-term irritation of taking the test now and long term benefit of having it done and out of the way. 

For some of my students, especially those who scored exceptionally well and who applied to the most competitive Ivy and Ivy adjacent institutions, submitting scores was a no brainer. In several cases, it’s mandatory;  Dartmouth, Georgetown, MIT have all reinstated their test score requirements, and time will tell whether other elite institutions follow suit. 

The fact of the matter is, whether or not to submit test scores depends on the student, the institution and the student’s overall application strategy. There is no reliable large scale data set stating what will work best, and anyone who tells you they know the secret formula is full of it! College admissions departments are still trying to figure it out themselves. 

While some critics complain that that “test score optional” policies lower academic standards, confuse students, and inhibit the pursuit of excellence, others point out that it need not be a one size fits all dynamic. Top schools can return to using mandatory test scores, and other schools can remain test score optional. One thing is for certain, test score optional is the new norm. 92 percent of officials at colleges that made the switch during the pandemic said they would support continuing that policy indefinitely, according to Inside Higher Ed’s 2023 admissions survey.

Choice can be overwhelming, but in life, and in the college application process, options are a good thing! So take a deep breath, take your digital practice tests and take the next best step for you. Not sure what that is? Let’s talk! #KeepCalmAndCollegeOn #TheWriteCollege