A New Test-ament: The Rise of Test-Optional Admissions


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Broken yellow pencil laying on a standardized test

April Reiss, News Editor

While March celebrates the beginning of spring, the days getting longer, and students getting one step closer to summer, March also represents the most important test for juniors around the nation. But colleges are indicating that the ACT might not be as important as we think. 

In recent years, it has been a growing pattern for some colleges to not require the submission of an ACT score for admission. While the trend started through the COVID year because most test dates were cancelled for quarantine, the trend has continued through the recent school years. Colleges are now starting to question whether an ACT score shows how well a kid will do in college and are making their school ‘test optional’.

Senior Larissa Johnson has seen this first hand. She applied to about 10 colleges but “maybe 3” actually required ACT scores for the application, she said.

‘Test optional’ might have a negative connotation in a student’s mind when it comes to things like motivation, but the idea isn’t all bad.

“Tests can be really expensive to send, so it’s not fair to people that either aren’t confident in their score or don’t have the money because it’s about 30 dollars to send per school,” Johnson said..

Colleges are less likely to base your skills on your score, but there are still reasons why a student would want to do well on the ACT.

“Now, a lot of colleges are looking at ACT for scholarship and money purposes not so much as admissions,” assistant principal Michaela Wragge said. “That’s really what I try to encourage. If you put a little bit of effort into it, you can get free money. Like at state schools, a 25 will get you free money.”

“People are taking literally the words ‘test optional’ when they should be taking those words literally if they’re excited to pay full price, but if they want a scholarship they should be preparing hard and doing the best they can,” OnToCollege founder John Baylor said.

While it has become more popular for colleges to not find ACT scores essential for admissions, there has also been a decline in composite scores. According to the Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska’s average 2022 composite score was 19.4. This score is down from 20.0 in 2021.

“I think a big piece of it is that students are concentrating on other things because colleges are still looking at activities, they’re looking at GPAs, so the test isn’t as heavily focused on. I would have to say there’s a correlation,” Wragge said.