Are colleges secretly factoring test scores into decisions for test-optional applicants?

Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:But doesn't it also depend on the school? For example, if you're at a DMV private do you want to be the applicant who has no test score? That's what I'd be worried about.


My kid went TO and got in everywhere. Most of the schools he applied to have been TO for years. People just need to stop applying to so many reach schools. Do you homework so your kid will have plenty of choices that they actually like.


But where


Not PP, but my white DC was accepted at Northwestern TO from a DMV private. Sibling attending a Top 20 school also TO (I'm not saying where for anonymity purposes). I'm starting to wonder if all of these anti-TO posts are from the College Board and tutoring companies that have a vested interest in testing.


It’s definitely not the CB; I see these sentiments everywhere. I think a lot of parents are having a really hard time understanding what holistic admissions means and why test scores are no more or less important than many other factors an applicant presents. Our generation (parents) were raised to believe that a high SAT/ACT score = objective measure of intelligence, and it’s really hard to convince them that it’s just a three-hour test. Why should that three hour test count for more than a single three-hour AP exam, for example? Why should that three-hour test count for more than a recommendation from a teacher who has observed a kid every day for a year? Why should the absence of that three-hour test matter more than strong rigor/grades + ECs + recs + service?

A strong test score is a single factor that some kids will have and some kids won’t, just as some kids will have strong leadership and some won’t. The combination of factors is what matters. But I really do think parents cannot get past that old conception of the SAT/ACT that we grew up with and see it as somehow more important than other elements. It’s a very widespread belief, as every conversation about it on DCUM makes clear.


Except you have Presidents of Ivies, MIT, etc., coming out this year with data saying that Test scores are the single most predictive indicator of success in college. Collected data over the past 4-5 years.


Sure, a few are saying this. And plenty of tippy top schools—e.g. Amherst, Bowdoin, Pomona—are enrolling classes where the majority did not submit test scores. My personal suspicion is that the Ivies are so swamped with applications that they want the SAT/ACT as a sorting mechanism.

Regardless, the predictive power a few Ivy presidents are alluding to is not being seen at far more, equally selective and rigorous schools. Why is that?


There is a reason Ivies remain highly ranked, for now... once you let go of merit it's a slipperly slope down to the bottom.
Anonymous
^slippery, slipperly...you get it
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:I think the poster who constantly argues in favor of test optional: (1) is trying to sabotage other applicants or (2) has a kid who got in test optional and is unhappy there is starting to be a stigma about such admissions.

I had a senior who went through the cycle last year from a rigorous private. A full third of the class got some type of national merit recognition for their test scores and those same kids got into the highest ranked schools as compared to the rest of the class.

If my younger kid bombed the SAT, sure, I would have them apply test optional. But only after having them do everything they could to bring the score up.


Good lord. Just like there are multiple posters opposed to TO, there are multiple posters who believe it’s real and appropriate.

As someone who believes in TO, I’ll reiterate: a good test score is great to submit if you have it. You can also be a strong applicant without a score. I have one kid going TO and another who won’t. Holistic admissions means you should present your best self. I’m thrilled for the kids who do that successfully and get into schools they love, whether they submit scores or not.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:Just take a look at the thread titled Bad Choices today about the student with a 3.7 uw who is disappointed with her options. Not to pick on that poster, but more generally, since the rapid move to TO, there are assumptions made by applicants and their families that they never would have made under a tests-required scenario, assumptions that don't quite verge on entitlements, but not recognizing that to college AOs, TO = low score.Some colleges also pretend that this isn't true, but it is a simple fact that TO applicants scored "low"


There are an equally large number of posts by people complaining that their kid had a "good enough" score to get in, but still got deferred or rejected.

It ain't the test score or lack thereof that's making the difference at highly rejective schools.


I disagree, there are a couple of active threads currently where test optional kids with high gpas are underperforming in admissions compared to their classmates. Yes, kids with high test scores also get rejected, but all things being equal, the evidence shows it’s harder to get on test optional for upper middle class kids. Which is why probate schools are back to encouraging testing.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:I think the poster who constantly argues in favor of test optional: (1) is trying to sabotage other applicants or (2) has a kid who got in test optional and is unhappy there is starting to be a stigma about such admissions.

I had a senior who went through the cycle last year from a rigorous private. A full third of the class got some type of national merit recognition for their test scores and those same kids got into the highest ranked schools as compared to the rest of the class.

If my younger kid bombed the SAT, sure, I would have them apply test optional. But only after having them do everything they could to bring the score up.


Definitely! If my second born does not turn out to be a high scorer like his brother, I'm sure my stance of 'require tests' will change. Lol
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:Just take a look at the thread titled Bad Choices today about the student with a 3.7 uw who is disappointed with her options. Not to pick on that poster, but more generally, since the rapid move to TO, there are assumptions made by applicants and their families that they never would have made under a tests-required scenario, assumptions that don't quite verge on entitlements, but not recognizing that to college AOs, TO = low score.Some colleges also pretend that this isn't true, but it is a simple fact that TO applicants scored "low"

If a kid scores 1550+ in a practice SAT, what are the disadvantages of taking the actual test and reporting it?

Exactly. If they had the potential for a good score, they would have tested.

However, I'd argue that what is sufficient to submit is far less than 1550. I think some people got bad advice on that this season.


Many high schools have averages under 1200. If you have 100+ points better than your school average then consider submitting them. If you have 200+ better then absolutely submit them. If your school average is 1300+ and you have 1300+ then guess what? Still submit them! If you don't the admissions officer may assume your scores are below your schools average.


The podcast straight out said no, they're not going to assume that.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:Just take a look at the thread titled Bad Choices today about the student with a 3.7 uw who is disappointed with her options. Not to pick on that poster, but more generally, since the rapid move to TO, there are assumptions made by applicants and their families that they never would have made under a tests-required scenario, assumptions that don't quite verge on entitlements, but not recognizing that to college AOs, TO = low score.Some colleges also pretend that this isn't true, but it is a simple fact that TO applicants scored "low"


There are an equally large number of posts by people complaining that their kid had a "good enough" score to get in, but still got deferred or rejected.

It ain't the test score or lack thereof that's making the difference at highly rejective schools.


I disagree, there are a couple of active threads currently where test optional kids with high gpas are underperforming in admissions compared to their classmates. Yes, kids with high test scores also get rejected, but all things being equal, the evidence shows it’s harder to get on test optional for upper middle class kids. Which is why probate schools are back to encouraging testing.


Private schools, not probate.
Anonymous
My opinion: if you don't have a score in range for a college, then consider that college a reach for you, just as you would have back when tests were required.

If you are applying to all schools TO, then you only have reaches on your list. Add targets and safeties where you can comfortably submit your score.

Submit anywhere that your score is close to the 25th percentile or above.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:But doesn't it also depend on the school? For example, if you're at a DMV private do you want to be the applicant who has no test score? That's what I'd be worried about.


My kid went TO and got in everywhere. Most of the schools he applied to have been TO for years. People just need to stop applying to so many reach schools. Do you homework so your kid will have plenty of choices that they actually like.


But where


Not PP, but my white DC was accepted at Northwestern TO from a DMV private. Sibling attending a Top 20 school also TO (I'm not saying where for anonymity purposes). I'm starting to wonder if all of these anti-TO posts are from the College Board and tutoring companies that have a vested interest in testing.


It’s definitely not the CB; I see these sentiments everywhere. I think a lot of parents are having a really hard time understanding what holistic admissions means and why test scores are no more or less important than many other factors an applicant presents. Our generation (parents) were raised to believe that a high SAT/ACT score = objective measure of intelligence, and it’s really hard to convince them that it’s just a three-hour test. Why should that three hour test count for more than a single three-hour AP exam, for example? Why should that three-hour test count for more than a recommendation from a teacher who has observed a kid every day for a year? Why should the absence of that three-hour test matter more than strong rigor/grades + ECs + recs + service?

A strong test score is a single factor that some kids will have and some kids won’t, just as some kids will have strong leadership and some won’t. The combination of factors is what matters. But I really do think parents cannot get past that old conception of the SAT/ACT that we grew up with and see it as somehow more important than other elements. It’s a very widespread belief, as every conversation about it on DCUM makes clear.


Except you have Presidents of Ivies, MIT, etc., coming out this year with data saying that Test scores are the single most predictive indicator of success in college. Collected data over the past 4-5 years.


Sure, a few are saying this. And plenty of tippy top schools—e.g. Amherst, Bowdoin, Pomona—are enrolling classes where the majority did not submit test scores. My personal suspicion is that the Ivies are so swamped with applications that they want the SAT/ACT as a sorting mechanism.

Regardless, the predictive power a few Ivy presidents are alluding to is not being seen at far more, equally selective and rigorous schools. Why is that?


Bowdoin, like Wake Forest, has been test optional for a few decades. The California schools tend to take a lot of test optional because of the declining number of students in CA taking standardized tests due to the California public colleges going test blind. But at most other schools, the percentage of kids admitted test optional is not greater than the percentage of kids who are institutional priorities.


Right! Great examples of how TO can be thoughtfully incorporated into admissions and does not doom schools to descent.

And for the schools that have gone TO more recently, the percentage of enrolled students without scores tends to get bigger each year.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:My opinion: if you don't have a score in range for a college, then consider that college a reach for you, just as you would have back when tests were required.

If you are applying to all schools TO, then you only have reaches on your list. Add targets and safeties where you can comfortably submit your score.

Submit anywhere that your score is close to the 25th percentile or above.


Listen, even if you have scores in range--schools are still reaches based on their acceptance rates alone. At the top schools, everyone has high scores/gpas
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:My opinion: if you don't have a score in range for a college, then consider that college a reach for you, just as you would have back when tests were required.

If you are applying to all schools TO, then you only have reaches on your list. Add targets and safeties where you can comfortably submit your score.

Submit anywhere that your score is close to the 25th percentile or above.


Listen, even if you have scores in range--schools are still reaches based on their acceptance rates alone. At the top schools, everyone has high scores/gpas


Yep. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc., they are reaches even with 36ACT and straight As.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:My opinion: if you don't have a score in range for a college, then consider that college a reach for you, just as you would have back when tests were required.

If you are applying to all schools TO, then you only have reaches on your list. Add targets and safeties where you can comfortably submit your score.

Submit anywhere that your score is close to the 25th percentile or above.


This is demonstrably untrue (and very stupid). Many students don’t even take standardized tests. We can debate how important scores are to the most selective schools, but the idea that all schools need/expect test scores is untrue.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:My opinion: if you don't have a score in range for a college, then consider that college a reach for you, just as you would have back when tests were required.

If you are applying to all schools TO, then you only have reaches on your list. Add targets and safeties where you can comfortably submit your score.

Submit anywhere that your score is close to the 25th percentile or above.


This is demonstrably untrue (and very stupid). Many students don’t even take standardized tests. We can debate how important scores are to the most selective schools, but the idea that all schools need/expect test scores is untrue.

Outside of CA, the only students who don't take the test are those who know they won't perform well compared to their GPA. That might be for a variety of reasons, of course.

Again outside of CA, are there students who would have scored well but chose not to take the test? Now THAT would be stupid.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:But doesn't it also depend on the school? For example, if you're at a DMV private do you want to be the applicant who has no test score? That's what I'd be worried about.


My kid went TO and got in everywhere. Most of the schools he applied to have been TO for years. People just need to stop applying to so many reach schools. Do you homework so your kid will have plenty of choices that they actually like.


But where


Not PP, but my white DC was accepted at Northwestern TO from a DMV private. Sibling attending a Top 20 school also TO (I'm not saying where for anonymity purposes). I'm starting to wonder if all of these anti-TO posts are from the College Board and tutoring companies that have a vested interest in testing.


It’s definitely not the CB; I see these sentiments everywhere. I think a lot of parents are having a really hard time understanding what holistic admissions means and why test scores are no more or less important than many other factors an applicant presents. Our generation (parents) were raised to believe that a high SAT/ACT score = objective measure of intelligence, and it’s really hard to convince them that it’s just a three-hour test. Why should that three hour test count for more than a single three-hour AP exam, for example? Why should that three-hour test count for more than a recommendation from a teacher who has observed a kid every day for a year? Why should the absence of that three-hour test matter more than strong rigor/grades + ECs + recs + service?

A strong test score is a single factor that some kids will have and some kids won’t, just as some kids will have strong leadership and some won’t. The combination of factors is what matters. But I really do think parents cannot get past that old conception of the SAT/ACT that we grew up with and see it as somehow more important than other elements. It’s a very widespread belief, as every conversation about it on DCUM makes clear.


But the tests really just measure high school level knowledge of math and English. It’s not stuff they don’t already know if they’ve been studying and doing well. The kids that do well really know their stuff with the same quickness that you know 2+3=5. The kids who don’t test well don’t have the same grasp of knowledge. It would be akin to a kid counting on their fingers to get the answer versus just knowing it. One takes longer. They can get there, but don’t know it in the same way. It’s - do you really know or just kind of know it. That’s what the timed tests convey.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:My opinion: if you don't have a score in range for a college, then consider that college a reach for you, just as you would have back when tests were required.

If you are applying to all schools TO, then you only have reaches on your list. Add targets and safeties where you can comfortably submit your score.

Submit anywhere that your score is close to the 25th percentile or above.


Listen, even if you have scores in range--schools are still reaches based on their acceptance rates alone. At the top schools, everyone has high scores/gpas

Of course. My opinion is that applying test optional makes them even reachier.
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