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The Benefits of Test-Optional Colleges

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Sitting for the SAT or ACT exam used to be a necessary step for high school students on the road to higher education. Gaining admission to a four-year college without taking one of these exams was nearly impossible. But more and more colleges are revisiting their standardized testing policy. Recent research has shown that the information these tests provide isn't as strong a predictor of college success as once thought, and skews in favor of students from wealthier backgrounds. The list of test optional colleges continues to grow, representing an evolution in the college admissions process.

No two students are alike, so the reasons you may be interested in a test optional college will likely vary. A recent Forbes article points out that while schools benefit from adopting test-optional policies, it's ultimately good for students too. Here are some potential benefits you may find from applying to test-optional schools.

  • You can save time and money. Standardized tests are expensive and time consuming. Preparing for the SAT and ACT can take a substantial amount of time, and while time is valuable to everyone, adult students with jobs and families may find SAT/ACT preparation to be especially challenging. Attending preparation courses and hiring tutors to help you achieve top scores adds a financial burden and require a significant time commitment. And the fees to take the tests can add up, too. Selecting test-optional colleges can save money and free up time that may be better invested in completing college applications, securing letters of recommendation and getting transcripts.
  • You can still attend a top college. It's possible to choose a test-optional college without narrowing your options or lowering your academic aspirations. Currently more than 800 colleges have a test-optional policy. The list of colleges that don't require the SAT contains well-regarded institutions including George Washington University, Sarah Lawrence College and Brandeis University.
  • You don't have to stress over low scores. If you decide to take the SAT or ACT or both, are disappointed by your scores, but don't want to sit for the exams again, a test-optional college might provide a great alternative. Students whose best efforts still result in a low SAT or low ACT score often take the tests again, but if you find yourself in this position you may want to see if any test-optional schools offer what you need. Taking the SAT or ACT exams won't disqualify you from later applying to test-optional schools.

The above advantages apply to students who are still in high school and will attend college through traditional pathways as well as students who are adults returning to school. Online colleges and universities continue to provide students, especially adult students, with flexible options for higher education. Many of these colleges, including American InterContinental University (AIU), are test optional.

While the majority of four-year institutions still require standardized test scores for admission, there is a growing list of test optional colleges that can provide you with numerous high-quality options for earning a college degree.

Interested in learning more? Learn about the admissions process at AIU.