Bradshaw College Consulting

Monday, October 30, 2017


Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

My counselor informed me that many colleges are dropping their SAT and ACT requirements and becoming test optional. She pointed out that even Stanford does not require tests beyond the SAT or ACT and that, while subject tests are now optional at Stanford, they are no longer required.

A High School Senior

The devil is in the details at test optional colleges



Dear High School Senior,

The devil is always in the details. You need to ask yourself why any college or university would make tests optional and drop mandatory testing. Certainly, many will naively believe that by dropping the SAT or ACT requirement, colleges are doing students a big favor by making it easier for them to gain admission.

Placing more emphasis on grades, that often suffer from inflation, and class rank — when many high schools graduate 20 or more valedictorian, or have dropped class rankings altogether — could well be a cover for something more sinister. Granted, if you are not a good test taker, a test optional school is a good bet if they take a more holistic approach in their admissions process by paying attention to your grades and essays. Test scores are not necessarily a predictor of college success. However, the name of the game today is body count. Test optional means, first and foremost, that these colleges are hurting for students. It is a well known fact that the number of high school graduates has been diminishing over the past several years and that even the top-tier schools have admissions counselors who are beating the bushes to fill their quotas and their empty housing.

These colleges and universities are generally the ones who are hoping to attract students willing to pay $50,000 or more a year for a private college education — but in order to do so they have had to drop their standards. Here is the skinny. Test optional colleges do not usually report the SAT or ACT scores of those who score at the lower levels. Those students who opt to report their scores are generally the ones who score higher. This is the way that test optional colleges can admit lower scoring students while at the same time maintaining artificially higher test averages in the US News and World Report rankings.

Another consideration when you are choosing a school should be the quality and type of employers that recruit on that campus. Test optional schools may give aid and comfort to the admissions office, but make sure to ask them about the placement rate of their graduates and starting salaries for jobs. If they don't provide you with statistics that go five years back, drop them like a hot potato. The same is true about the availability of graduate and professional school placement rates.

Tags: Colleges SAT Preparation

Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.
SKYPE: geraldbradshaw
Colleges, College Consulting, International Students


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