Test-Optional Policy: What International Students Should Do? - UniVisory
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Test-Optional Policy: What International Students Should Do?

What International Students Should Do

Test-Optional Policy: What International Students Should Do?

Several schools all over the globe have a test-optional policy for both domestic and international students. More schools have gone test-optional, especially after the pandemic hit. Around 1600 colleges in the US went test-optional in 2020, and about 1500 of them are extending this policy for 2021 admissions. College admissions are chaotic, but most international students have been confused by these frequent changes in admission policies. Whether to take their SATs and ACTs or not? What would be the application review process? What will be the basis for acceptance?

When it comes to international students, the anarchy only escalates with a new set of rules and eligibility criteria; in most cases, students end up getting misinformed, resulting in a hindrance to their college applications. To help students understand current college application processes, we have compiled a list of the most frequent student queries regarding admission criteria. Here’s all you need to know!

What Is the Test-Optional Policy?

Test-optional doesn’t mean that SAT or ACT scores, if submitted, are not factored in during application review. It means that submitting your test scores is not compulsory. There are various eligibility tests for different domains of study in other countries. For example, on the one hand, several universities require test scores, while some test-optional colleges may use an index based on your GPA, test scores and class rank to authenticate your test-optional eligibility.

Moreover, while some colleges may need you to submit test scores or take a placement exam to be placed in the freshman class, some may want things other than test scores, such as samples of your academic work, scientific research or supplementary recommendation letters.

Are Test-Optional and Test-Blind the Same Thing?

Simply, no. Test-blind schools don’t consider test scores while evaluating your application, even if you submit them. Their entire focus remains on school GPA records, extracurriculars, etc. But in test-optional schools, if students offer their SATs or similar test scores, a certain weightage is put on those scores during evaluation. Moreover, if you think your test scores won’t positively impact your college application, you can rightfully skip it. In that case, the total weightage will be given on school track records.

Is There Any Discretion in Test-Optional Policy for International Students?

Now, while some colleges have decided to provide all students with a clean slate by keeping their test-optional policies open for international students and domestic students, some schools have imposed certain restrictions in the case of international applicants. As an international student, we advise that it is best to have test scores in your back pocket, just in case. 

For example, in the USA, students have to appear for exams like GMAT, which is a non-optional prerequisite to pursue a master’s or an MBA degree. Good scores can help enhance your college application.

Are English Language Proficiency Tests a Part of Test-Optional Policy for International Applicants?

No, ELPs are not a part of the test-optional policy. Schools in the US, Canada, etc., require international students to qualify for specific English proficiency tests. For example, a minimum score of 80 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a 6.5 and above on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are required. These scores are mandatory, so help the authorities judge whether a student would be compatible with the medium of instruction and mode of teaching at the respective school.

Are Test Scores Required to Apply or Qualify for Scholarships?

When it comes to merit scholarships, many test-optional universities look at test scores, so not submitting them can put you at a disadvantage. Most schools provide scholarships to students who meet specific academic criteria, and often SATs and ACTs are a part of the eligibility criteria even for test-optional schools. But it is best to visit the college’s online portal you are aiming for and get familiar with their prerequisites.

For example, you can be considered for the Visual & Performing Arts Scholarship, Iowa Kohawk Award, National Kohawk Award or Impact Award at Coe College if you have good test scores.[AK1] 

What Are the Timelines for Taking the Tests?

Test timelines depend on various factors like the admission deadlines at the colleges you are aiming for and other commitments you may have throughout the year. It is ideal for picking an exam date to get at least ten to twelve of prep time. For Indian students, SATs and ACTs are conducted 5 and 6 times a year, respectively, so you can map out your study plan accordingly. Although, because of the current pandemic situation, many exams have been delayed. 

How Will the Test-Optional School Authorities View My Application If I Do/Don’t Submit My Test Scores?

Even in test-optional schools, test scores impact the standard of your college application. Applications submitted with test scores are still valued higher than the ones without scores. It is not surprising because the more relevant resources you provide, the better your application is reviewed. In many schools, the test-optional policy was introduced mainly because of the problematic situations students had to undergo in the past couple of years that could’ve impacted their ability to perform better in the exams. 

Final Words

At UniVisory, we understand the importance of college decisions and how daunting they can get. Thus, our team of experts guides students and shows them the right path to a brighter future. To get a deeper insight into the test-optional policy, get in touch with the UniVisory team!

 [AK1]Hi sir. I could only find this example related to the same. It would be a great help if you can provide me with the reference link if you want more examples.

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