Students need to check the testing policy of each school to which they're applying and that includes "test-optional" schools. While "test-optional" means a college is flexible about the submission of standardized test scores, that term may mean something different at each school. At some schools, students are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT scores at all. At others, it means students must submit the results of AP, IB, or SAT Subject Tests in lieu of SAT or ACT results. Eligibility to not submit test scores may be contingent on other factors -- for example, you might need to rank in the top 10 percent of your class or have a GPA of 3.5 or above. Sometimes, there are alternative admission requirements such as the submission of graded papers, additional recommendations or in-person interviews. Pay close attention to the policies and practices of each school in order to determine what your testing plan -- and ultimate college list -- should look like. BTW, a full list of schools with test-optional policies can be found here at FairTest.
SAT Subject Tests
Second semester of junior year in high school means testing. In addition to the SAT (upcoming on March 9 and May 4) and the ACT (on April 13 and June 8), students may be taking AP exams and SAT Subject Tests this spring. There are upcoming SAT Subject Test dates on May 4 and June 1. Students can take Subject Tests at any time during high school. But there is optimal timing: test as close as possible to when you complete the relevant class so the subject matter is fresh in your mind. For example, if you are completing the highest level of Japanese at the end of junior year, take the Subject Test in Japanese at the end of junior year. Or if you’re in AP Chemistry, take the subject test in May or June while you’re prepping for the AP test. With multiple standardized tests and multiple testing dates, it’s important to take the time to map out a testing plan if you haven't already.
Our primer on standardized testing for international students applying from India is up on the New York Times' blog India Ink. Thank you to Jacques Steinberg, education writer and author of The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College, who helms the New York Times' blog The Choice, for inviting us to explain the role testing plays in the admission decisions of American colleges and universities. And thank you to the experts who contributed to the feature: Jarrid Whitney, executive director of admissions and financial aid at the California Institute of Technology; Katharine Harrington, vice president for admissions and planning at the University of Southern California; Jenny Rickard, chief enrollment officer at Bryn Mawr College; Jim Montoya, vice president for higher education at the College Board; and Amin Gonzalez, associate director of admissions at Yale University and his colleagues Rebekah Westphal and Jean Lee.