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If your college says “Test Optional” do you take the test?

Jul 19, 2022

If your college says “Test Optional” do you take the test?

A great question to be asking yourself is, "if the college is test optional, do I really need to take the test!?".

There are several answers in regards to test-taking:

  1. If all of the colleges to which you are applying are test optional, then you will not have to take the test(s). If you are a good test taker, however, and find the tests easy and fun, then by all means, take the test to see how well you can do on them. If you do well, then send them in! If finances are a concern, ask your college counselor for a fee waiver for the tests. These are given if your family income has limited resources.

  2. If some of the colleges require a test, either SATs or ACTs, APs or IBs, then you will obviously need to sit for them. You can then submit them to the colleges that require them, and choose to send them to the test optional ones. If they are good scores, then send them to all of the colleges.

  3. If all of your universities require the tests, then you will obviously take them. Generally speaking, three times for each test will be statistically accurate. So, if you test well during your junior year, try to take them again during your senior year (at least once). If you achieve perfect scores in your junior year, you probably don’t need to take them again, but colleges do like to know that you are not afraid to try to improve your scores. So if they are good (average) scores, then take them again. If you test poorly in your junior year, definitely take them again your senior year. Maybe twice.

  4. My recommendation: Take the test(s) during your junior year.  This is recommended because some of the colleges and universities are changing their testing policy in the coming years and requiring the tests. Many colleges did not require them during the 2020-2022 years, but are re-thinking that policy. While you are investigating which colleges to apply to, be certain you notate the colleges that require testing simply because you don’t want to have to go back again and again to the website. 

The final say on testing:

It is always better to take the test (with or without a fee waiver) just so you have some testing on record.  You certainly don’t have to report it if you choose.

photo credit: nguyen dang hoang nhu

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