Test Optional Policies Affect Accepted Standardized Test Scores

Test optional policies across U.S. Colleges have resulted in a widespread increase in admitted scores. Looking at the small range of schools depicted below, we see that during the fall of 2019 (prior to test optional policies) the 25th percentile of ACT scores from admitted students were between 26 and 33. For students who took the SAT, the 25th percentile generally fell between 1190 and 1480.

While test optional policies in 2020 and 2021 seemed to leave certain schools unaffected (most notably Purdue and Princeton), others saw a moderate increase. ACT scores went up by 1 point with the exception of UIUC which saw a 3 point increase. Changes in the SAT score range were more notable: most schools on the list saw increases below 30 points. Exceptions include UMass Amherst, Amherst, USC, and Maryland. These schools all increased their 25 percentile score by 50 points with the exception of UIUC which increased by 110 points.

Prior to adopting test optional policies, Cornell’s 25th percentile SAT score was 1400 – nearly 50 points lower than its Ivy-League peers. Cornell closed this gap after adopting test optional policies, rising to a 25th percentile score of 1450.

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