How Many Students are Submitting Test Scores...and to Which Colleges?

My professional colleague Jeff Selingo found that few schools want to publicly release the numbers of students submitting scores so early in the process, partly out of fear a low number might encourage a wave of applicants who have no shot of getting in.

  • So far, the number of applicants with test scores is lower than what was expected.

Here’s a snapshot of the percentage of students who have submitted scores, with some context for the type of institution based on their acceptance rate.

  • Private research university (<10% acceptance rate): 70%

  • Public research university (<60% acceptance rate): 30%.

  • Public university (<80% acceptance rate): 25%

  • Public research university (<25% acceptance rate): 69%

  • Private research university (<20% acceptance rate): 43%.

A dean of admission at the final school on the list above said: “We’re seeing big gains in diversity. Very pleased about that and it’s something that will make a return to required testing harder to do.“

The most extensive report was from a large public research university with a national footprint (<60% acceptance rate):

  • 59% with test scores, but big differences by residency and major.

  • 56% in-state. 75% out-of-state. 43% international.

  • 75% engineering. 55% business. 35% education, social work, general.

From the dean of admission at this school: “Based on what we heard from in-state privates who were test-optional, we were guessing test-optional would have been 10-15% if we had gone test-optional in a ‘normal year.’ So this is about double what we expected.”


So the upshot is that plenty of students are taking advantage of the test-optional policy, which is in effect for 2021 at some colleges, 3 years at others, and indefinite at many more.

Recent Posts