We’ve gotten several questions from students confused about test-optional and whether or not to submit scores to schools with November deadlines. Keep reading to hear what we propose.
If your scores are within or above a college’s mid-50% score range for accepted students, then submit your scores. Self-report them in Common App and send an official score report either to all your November-deadline colleges or to those that require an official report (depends how much time you want to spend reviewing colleges’ websites to see if an official score report is required at the time of application).
If your scores are a bit below a top-choice college’s mid-50%, call admissions to ask if they’ll accept December scores – and, if so, take a December test only if you feel safe doing so, and do some significant prep for it. Ask also if you should apply test-optional now and then submit scores in December, indicating a change of mind about score consideration, or if you should apply now indicating that you want your scores to be considered because you’ll just submit December scores.
If your scores are much lower, then let’s take test-optional colleges at their word that not sending scores will have no negative impact on an admission decision – they’ll consider other factors more heavily, especially your academic record, extracurricular commitment, essays, and recommendations.
If your scores are not competitive for colleges with later deadlines, and only if you feel safe doing it, take an upcoming test in December or February (or January, if College Board decides to offer a January test in 2021). Yes, even Harvard will accept a February score! And you’ll need to do some significant prep for that test. Otherwise, submit your future applications without scores and know that all the hard work you’ve done throughout high school will be key to your successful application.
Regardless of when you apply, do NOT self-report SAT/ACT scores on the Testing page of your Common App for the colleges where you indicate that you don’t want your scores considered. However, you’ll need to remember to self-report your scores for colleges where you want your scores to be considered.
P.S. To know exactly what information each college can see on your Common App, look to the Review and Submit page. Under the PDF, but above the link to the PDF in a separate window, there is a message that tells you what information that college is suppressing on the PDF (SSN, Testing, etc.).