What ‘Test Optional’ Really Means: CampusChat Live with Lauren Gaggioli

Prepping for 'Test Optional'

How to tackle the SAT and ACT in 2020 with special guest Lauren Gaggioli of Higher Scores Test Prep.

Posted by Smart College Visit on Thursday, June 18, 2020

“To test… or NOT to test?” is actually the question on a lot of juniors and seniors’ minds right now! What does “test optional” really mean? Is it a freebie this year? We’re here to help inform your decision! Lauren Gaggioli from Higher Scores Test Prep joined Kelly on the June 18, 2020 episode of CampusChat Live.

To Test or Not to Test

If you’re thinking the “test optional” trend is a “get out of testing free” card for you this year, Gaggioli points out an important fact. Your SAT and/or ACT scores serve to strengthen and validate your grades.

Test optional policies were announced this year due to the coronavirus shutdown and the fact that the testing companies didn’t have a “good” online option yet. Online versions are promised, but we don’t know what they’re going to look like. These new policies were announced to keep students safe — if you can’t safely take a standardized test, don’t! If you live in an area where the infection rate is skyrocketing, that takes priority.

Can you safely take a written or an online test? Depending on your specific circumstances and what you hope to accomplish, submitting a test score can usually help you, and never harm.

Importantly: a “test optional” policy is very different than a “test blind” policy. Test optional means they will make a decision on your application regardless of whether or not you supply a standardized test score. If you provide one, they’ll use it as a factor. If you don’t, they won’t. That is, not submitting one shouldn’t impact their decision.

Test blind means even that even if you hit a 1600 SAT, they will not look at it or use it in their decision.

Are your grades top notch and in the historical range for the schools you’re interested in? Or could you use another factor to show the admissions team? That is question you need to answer for yourself. If you think you can hit a great score, more, in this case, is better.

RELATED: Should You Take Advantage of Test Optional Policies Announced Due To Coronavirus? from Higher Scores Test Prep

But you need to do your research on previous admitted classes and choose carefully! This year has been a rollercoaster, and it’s still a difficult time. Weigh your options, and make smart decisions.

Hot Tip: Accuracy Over Speed

Are you still planning on hitting one or two test dates? One of the best testing tips Gaggiloli shared was that you want to use every single minute of the testing time. That means: slow it down! Even if you don’t answer EVERY question “Sometimes, answering fewer questions can actually boost your score,” says Gaggiloli.

So take the time to read everything super carefully! Don’t be first… be last! “Accuracy over speed, always!” says Gaggioli.

Above all, don’t use “test optional” as a free pass. It has, in many ways, only made the college admissions game even more complicated this year.

You can learn more about Higher Scores Test Prep and contact Lauren on her website, or on Facebook and Twitter. And Kelly is an upcoming guest on the Coronavirus special of Higher Scores’ The College Checklist Podcast. We’ll share that link when it happens!


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