Is “Test-Optional” Really Optional for the Class of 2022?

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Lauren Dauber

The pandemic has changed how colleges review applicants and what can actually be submitted in their applications. For the class of 2021, opportunities to take standardized tests were limited. As a result, test-optional applications have become the norm. Institutions established emergency policies for seniors unable to take standardized tests because of the pandemic. 

Some schools gave timelines as to how long this policy would be for, while others announced a full-time switch.  Many schools, however, were ambiguous in their approach, not committing to one path or another. As high school juniors are starting to think about the college application process, this uncertainty becomes troublesome. 

While some may think that colleges and universities dislike the switch to test-optional, it might be the opposite. This past year, applications to schools were at an all-time high across the country. There were 57,000 applicants to Harvard, compared to 39,000 the year before. Students who normally would not have been able to apply to schools due to the cost of standardized tests were able to this year. 

Colleges have enjoyed the surge in applications. Schools are able to seem more selective as the number of applicants rise while the number of admitted students remains the same. High selectivity makes a school seem more desirable. 

Emery/Weiner College Counselor Ms. Kerich believes most colleges will remain test-optional for the class of 2022. For public institutions, the decision to stay test-optional will be up to boards of regents and some state legislatures.  For private institutions, Kerich assumes that all schools will stay test-optional. But ultimately, if a college had a successful application cycle this past year, they will likely continue with test-optional admissions this year as well. 

Junior Rachel Coplon will be taking standardized tests this spring in order to be prepared for those schools on her list that have not announced their testing policy for the class of 2022. That seems to be the general consensus of many of the juniors this year. Ms. Kerich’s advice is to take one ACT and one SAT and see what you get. Test-optional eliminates the necessity of taking standardized tests, but many students at Emery want to be sure if any school on their potential college list turns out to not be test-optional. 

The college process has only just started for the class of 2022, yet, it will be different than ever before.