Excerpts from an article by Bruce Reed
With the most popular spring test dates coming up, it’s the right time to consider the latest testing revelations that are shaping the guidance of experts and driving the decisions of students.
- Those without scores will face increasing competition from those with scores.
- Test optional policies have made popular colleges even more attractive and competitive.
- Sending scores may imply a greater likelihood of admission. That is part cause and part correlation.
- If you’re on the fence about sending a score, you probably should send it.
Those without scores will face increasing competition from those with scores.
In the class of 2021, the unavailability of testing meant fewer students scoring well. As the total number of test takers increases, the total number of high scores will climb back up, too. More than 10,000 students who would’ve had an ACT superscore of 35 or 36 were prevented from having one. They will be back, and the same is true at 34, 33, and so on.
Consider only the top ACT score of 36. Historically, the number of students scoring 36 has doubled every three years. In California, for example, the number of students with perfect scores grew by a factor of 20 between 2009 and 2020. The pandemic interrupted this streak, but top-scoring California students are resurfacing. Some will be applying to the test free UC and Cal State systems, but most will also be applying to selective test optional schools nationally where they hope their top scores will provide a boost.
Test optional policies have made popular colleges even more attractive and competitive.
Plenty of good comes from colleges not requiring test scores. While most benefits are seen as wins for students, there is a catch. A relaxed testing policy does not make a highly selective school less choosy; in fact, it can boost a college’s popularity, increasing the imbalance of available spots and demand for them. Colleges that were already sought after reached record high levels of interest in 2020—especially in their early application rounds—resulting in record low early admit rates. Strong test scores can help an applicant stand out in a crowd.
Sending scores may imply a greater likelihood of admission. That is part cause and part correlation.
Most colleges have kept private the admission rates for test submitters and non-submitters. However, a handful have released this information. Last month, we shared a sampling of several well-known colleges with competitive admissions and in every case there was an apparent edge gained by submission of test scores.
If you’re on the fence about sending a score, you probably should send it.
If you feel like your scores are borderline, get advice from a counselor, but know that you are probably better off sending them in most borderline cases.
Yes, the reported range of test scores at many colleges has inched up this year; yes, that can be unnerving; no, your good score is not suddenly too low. If the range is higher, it’s because the lowest scores were removed from the average due to test optional policies. But a good score is still a good score, and it makes the same impression that it did when scores were required.
If you hide a score, that omission may be ignored, but you leave open the possibility of inference on the part of the reader. Did this applicant test or not? Was their score so low they wanted to conceal it? (If you had the chance to turn a B+ into a Pass/Fail, would you? Or might that wrongly imply you were hiding a C-?)
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For the full article by Bruce Reed, visit www.compassprep.com/testing-trends-to-watch