What’s the difference between Test-Optional, Test-Blind, and Test-Free College Admissions Policies?

For Fall 2022 admissions, nearly two-thirds of U.S. universities will again use test-optional, test-blind, or test-free admissions policies. Yet, for an entire generation of applicants (and their parents) for whom college admissions is synonymous with “take the SAT or ACT”, differentiating the policies can be helpful to continue strategizing for their individual college educational goals. 

Under test-optional policies, students can choose whether to submit SAT or ACT scores or not, without penalty during their admissions evaluation. Thus, students can submit test scores if they believe their aptitude can be shown through testing

Test-free admissions means that students are neither required to submit SAT or ACT scores, nor will test scores be considered in any admissions evaluation. The University of California (UC) is test-free through at least Fall 2025 admissions, which includes the current 2021-22 Freshmen class.   

Various colleges admissions officers, including at all 23 California State University (CSU) campuses, will practice test-blind evaluations again for Fall 2022, meaning test scores will not be considered for admissions, but may be submitted for placement in college level English or Math classes if a student enrolls in a college. 

Lastly, many colleges have also suspended the use of SAT and ACT test scores in determining merit aid, as well for Fall 2022. Thus, students are not pressured to take the SAT or ACT simply for more scholarship money

Understanding the definition of each admissions testing policy, high school juniors and sophomores can best determine if they should take the SAT or ACT. Additionally, since many colleges have extended the suspension of test requirements only through Fall 2022 admissions, prudent students should continue monitoring the individual admissions websites for announcements for Fall 2023 and beyond.


For more information about how to navigate the complex college admissions process in a test-optional environment, check out Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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