Making Sense of Test Optional, Test Flexible and Test Blind

By Sylvan Learning


You’ve probably been hearing these three terms A LOT lately: Test Optional, Test Flexible and Test Blind.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many colleges/universities opted to go test optional, at least temporarily because students had difficulty accessing the ACT/SAT. As national test dates were cancelled, test center locations closed and test capacity became limited, students had fewer chances to take the tests.

While the test optional policy is not new, many more colleges/universities that made that temporary shift are remaining test optional through the next few admissions cycles, then re-evaluating if test optional will become a permanent option. And, it’s likely many will remain test optional.

So, if you’re wondering what each of the three test policies mean (raise your hand!) our prep experts break it down for you and your teen below.


The 3 Test Policies


1. Test Optional: A test optional college or university will let the student decide whether or not to submit test scores with the application. If a student chooses to submit scores, it will be considered. But if the student opts not to submit it, other factors that are strong predictors of a student’s success in college/university will be considered instead. These factors may include GPA, rigor of coursework, application essay, letters of recommendation, etc.

2. Test Flexible: A test flexible college or university will allow students to choose what type of test scores they wish to send. For example, students can choose from SAT, ACT, AP tests or IB Exams.

3. Test Blind: A test blind college or university will not consider test scores, even if they are submitted.


What does this mean for students applying to college/university?


As students are determining their college/university lists, we recommend noting what the test policy is for each specific school.

When determining if your teen should take the ACT or SAT, he or she should think about the following:

  • Is it safe right now to take it?
    If your teen doesn’t feel safe, don’t risk it.
  • Is it necessary?
    Have your teen look at the schools he or she is applying to. If they are test optional or test blind, your teen may not need it.
  • Will it help set your teen apart?
    Perhaps your teen’s GPA isn’t as high as he or she hoped, but your child can do well on an SAT or ACT.
    Tip 1: Check the average SAT/ACT scores for admitted students to see where you fall.
    Tip 2: Take some practice tests to see if your scores can fall into that range or higher!

  • Is it helpful?
    Will those scores be considered for scholarships, merit aid or entrance into honors programs?
  • Is it required?
    If some schools on your teen’s list require it—for example, the Florida public college system requires the SAT or ACT—your teen should take it. He or she can always send to some schools and not others.


Your local Sylvan is here for you!


If you or your teen have questions about the college/university admissions process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Sylvan. Our expert education team is up to date on all the changes, and we’re here for your teen every step of the way!