When we released this blog post back in June, test optional was heavily in the national consciousness as over 65% of colleges and universities in the country chose to go test optional in some way. Since then, we have seen a great amount of confusion; every school does test optional differently and requires different things. We want to re-release this blog post from our Director of Admission, Aimee Kahn-Foss, discussing our test optional policy, as well as a new video on how test optional works at Agnes Scott.
As a Scottie and long time staff member of the admission office at Agnes Scott, one of the aspects of our application process I’m most proud of is our test optional admission policy, which the college introduced ten years ago. Agnes Scott’s move to test optional admission was a faculty-led initiative. Faculty tasked our admission leadership at the time to really think about what information we get from a student’s test scores that we do not get from the other information they submit through the application, transcript, GPA, recommendation letters, personal statement, and extracurricular activities. As an admission counselor with 1-2 years of professional experience at that point, I was really excited to take on this new challenge.
Now that I’m completing my tenth test optional admission cycle, I can tell you that my enthusiasm for test optional admission remains the same. I love that this option gives students more control in what information they share in their admission application and how they choose to present themselves. I love that we do not require test scores to consider students for merit-based scholarships. And more than perhaps any other reason, I love that test optional admission policies lessen the hype and significant stress around SAT and ACT scores. This is even more important right now, given cancellations and postponement of SAT and ACT testing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I love that this option gives students more control in what information they share in their admission application and how they choose to present themselves.
Here’s how Agnes Scott’s test optional admission policy works:
- You, the applicant, apply to Agnes Scott using the Common Application
- When you indicate that you are applying to Agnes Scott through Common App, you will also be asked to submit a supplement to Agnes Scott. This piece of the application only goes to Agnes Scott, and we choose the questions that you are asked to answer. One of those questions is “which test option will you submit.” THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! You can choose from the following three options:
- Submit SAT or ACT scores: If you choose this option, your test scores will be used as part of our review of your application. Agnes Scott allows you to self-report test scores to your admission counselor or upload to your applicant portal.
- Complete an evaluative interview: If you choose this option, you will be completing an interview with your Agnes Scott admission counselor. The interview generally lasts 30-45 minutes and we prefer to do these interviews in-person on campus (when that was possible), but we are also happy to talk via FaceTime, Zoom, phone, etc. if you are not able to make it to campus before your deadline. We will ask you questions that help us get to know you better and learn more about your academic preparation during high school.
- Submit a Graded Writing Sample: If you feel like you’re a great writer, this might be an excellent option for you. We ask you to submit a writing sample from your junior or senior year with grades/comments from your teacher. Important note: This needs to be an academic paper and a piece of writing you think exemplifies some of your best work in high school.
If you’re deciding which Agnes Scott test option to choose:
- If you’re not sure which test option to choose, talk it over with your counselor or a teacher you trust. Share with them how the process works and ask for advice.
- If you’re wondering if your test scores are competitive, a good first place to look is a college’s academic profile. Agnes Scott’s academic profile can be found here. Remember that this is a midrange; students admitted to Agnes Scott have scores higher and lower than the range. We evaluate applications holistically, so we will review everything you submit.
- If you choose the evaluative interview option, make sure you practice ahead of time! While you won’t know the questions we’re asking ahead of time, spending some time thinking about your academic journey through high school and what you want from your college experience will help you. As a senior, you may find yourself in lots of interviews for colleges, scholarships, etc. It’s a great time to practice with friends, family, or teachers to ask for and be receptive to constructive feedback.
Important things to keep in mind as you are considering test optional schools:
- The most comprehensive list of test optional schools can be found at fairtest.org
- Every school’s test optional policy looks a bit different. It’s important that you do your research on the schools that interest you. Check out their websites and ask their admission counselors so you know exactly how it works.
- Your test optional choice supplements the rest of your application. It’s important to spend time on the other application pieces.
I hope I’ve helped you learn a little more about the application process. More than anything else, I hope you feel more empowered going into your application process. We can’t wait to read your application and get to know you better through the admission process!
Aimee Kahn-Foss ’08 is the Director of Admission at Agnes Scott College and has been a part of the admission team since 2008. Since entering self-isolation and working from home, she has spent a lot of time doing yard work, becoming an expert puzzler, and excitedly greeting every person and dog that walks by her house.