In some ways, it is possible to state that the United States has a passion for academic testing. With simple standardized exams, a difficult human can be distilled to various numbers. Sometimes these exam results offer useful insights into student ability and sometimes they obscure the truth.
A growing number of universities and colleges realize the limitations of standardized examinations, and are therefore offering test-flexible and test-optional admissions. At present more than 200 highly ranked top-tier schools that de-emphasize entrance examinations.
Three types of learners in specific benefits from this choice: those with high scores but poor test scores, those who excel in a specific subject and those with serious examination anxiety.
1. Students with low test score and strong GPAs:
Test-flexible and Test-optional admissions policies don’t signify a university has abandoned standards. Several universities in this category are quite competitive, but have selected to focus on other ways to measure potential and achievement.
While candidates should still have great GPAs, these colleges may weigh other factors – such as additional or extra-curricular activities and references more heavily than in traditional admissions. This makes these universities great options for students who excel academically but do not exam well.
If you have low exam grades but have been an active volunteer, have served as a leader in after-college activities, can write killer essays and have ringing personal endorsements from your mentors, opting against the SAT or ACT may also be right for you.
And if this student profile fits you, don’t feel you have failed. Standardized exams benefit some students, but they don’t suit every student.
College is eventually an exercise in identified your unique potential and working with your limitations. By choosing a competitive exam-optional college instead of settling for a less competitive college with broader enrollment, you will be interacting with brilliant students like yourself. In other words, get this opportunity to play to your strengths.
2. Students with marked talent in a particular area:
Certain students excel in a relatively narrow area of the educational spectrum. Consider, for example, the gifted artist who struggles tremendously with science or the math enthusiast with little interest in English literature. This kind of student may not have an excellent GPA but rather high scores more heavily skewed toward one or two subjects or topics.
If this situation describes you, don’t despair. And do not settle for a less competitive school based solely on your average GPA.
Art colleges, for instance, are often test-ambivalent. Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, for example, does not include the SAT and ACT exams among the factors evaluated. Instead, the college highly values a student’s portfolio and audition. Your high school transcripts are still relevant, of course, but art schools tend to have realized that standardized test and artistic talent are sometimes at odds.
Unfortunately, the situation is less clear for the exceptional technology, science, engineering and math student. Several STEM-focused schools still require particular test scores.
There are, however, several universities with excellent STEM programs that are test-flexible or test-optional. In the case of test-flexible college, you may be permitted to submit several SAT or AP subject exams in areas of your choosing in lieu of the SAT or ACT, or you may be able to select which SAT or ACT scores you send, thus enabling you to make the strongest possible profile.
3. Students with exam anxiety:
Students with exam anxiety may be considered a subset of the first type of student explain except that their anxiety may have prevented them from contemplating taking the SAT or ACT exams.
Exam anxiety is a genuine phenomenon. As with various issues impacting your happiness and health, there is a delicate balance between healing and coping.
While you don’t want to allow anxiety to dictate your path in life, you also don’t want to shortchange yourself academically as you perform poorly on standardized examinations. As has been mentioned, it is possible to attend a great college without stellar exam scores.
Exploring your test-flexible and test-optional choices may also decrease your anxiety to manageable stages. If knowing that performing badly on an exam will not prevent you from attending a competitive university, you may be able to relax sufficient to do well.