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Articles / Preparing for College / How Do I Explain Why I’m Not Submitting Test Scores to Colleges?

How Do I Explain Why I’m Not Submitting Test Scores to Colleges?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 4, 2020
How Do I Explain Why I’m Not Submitting Test Scores to Colleges?

Andrea Piacquadio

One of the colleges I'm applying to wants test-optional students to submit a statement about why they are applying test optional. For me it's because I only had a chance to test once due to COVID-19 and those scores weren't good, and then the pandemic arrived. But I think they're going to wonder why that one sitting was bad. What should I say in this statement?

"The Dean" is irked by colleges that aren't demanding test scores this year and yet still expect applicants to explain why they're not submitting them. So if the application hasn't required you to say that you did test that one time, you can simply say:

"My intended test dates last spring and summer were canceled, and the closest test site I could find was in a state several hours from home. My school counselor is adamant that students should not travel for tests and that colleges with test-optional policies won't penalize those who apply test-optional."

But if you are asked about your testing history, it's a bad idea to lie outright. Instead, you can use the answer above but preface it with this:

I tested one time without preparation because I wanted to use the initial test to help me identify weaknesses and to prepare for the "real" SAT [or ACT], which I planned to take at least once more and possibly twice. But then, due to COVID-19, my two intended test dates last spring and summer were canceled ...

Or ... you can even go out on a limb and take a crusader's stance:

"I'm applying test-optional because I've never believed that standardized test scores provide a fair assessment of any student's achievements and abilities or an accurate prediction of college success."

Hopefully, one of these three approaches sounds right to you. Good luck!

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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