How do you Handle Test-Optional Admissions in College Kickstart?

    College Kickstart has long tracked schools offering test-optional admissions in the Standardized Testing column of the Requirements View.
    With the number of schools shifting to test-optional admissions on the rise and students uncertain whether they will be able to take the standardized test, we've introduced new functionality to help students identify situations where applying test-optional to a school on your list may make sense.
    After you've entered your college list and academic credentials and run Kickstart, one of the new checks we do is to look for situations where:

    • A college on your list offers test-optional admission.
    • Your standardized test score for that school appears weaker than your GPA and/or class rank when assessing academic performance.
    With more colleges and universities shifting to test-optional admissions for the coming application cycle, we're pleased to introduce new capabilities in College Kickstart to help you stay on top of all the changes and consider when applying test-optional may make sense for you.

    • Active tracking of test-optional schools.  We've long tracked standardized testing policies for the schools we cover in College Kickstart.  Normally, this information is updated in the late summer for the upcoming application cycle.  Given the number of schools shifting to test-optional in recent weeks in response to COVID-19, we've accelerated our process and are now actively tracking standardized testing policy changes.

      These changes will continue to be visible in the Requirements view.  Schools that have recently announced test-optional policies for the 2020-21 application cycle will be denoted with a green "New" badge under the Standardized Testing column.


    • Personalized analysis.  In addition to tracking which schools support test-optional admissions, we've also added a new test-optional consideration feature to help identify situations where applying test-optional may make sense for you.

      Each time you enter your college list and credentials and run College Kickstart, we now perform an additional check to see if (1) a school on your list offers test-optional admission, and (2) it appears you can benefit from applying this way because your GPA and/or class rank are stronger than your standardized test scores if submitted in the academic profile.

      When these conditions are satisfied, we'll evaluate your academic performance based solely on GPA and/or rank and recommend that you consider applying test-optional to that institution.

      This will be visible to you in two ways:

      • Details tab.  We'll call this out in the Details tab under the Academic Performance Assessment panel for the institution.
        • The Summary chart the bar labeled SAT/ACT is colored orange and filled with the text "TEST-OPTIONAL".
        • The SAT/ACT chart has a third bar labeled '%Test', which displays what percentage of the enrolled class submitted test scores. The minimum of the range is set to the highest of two values: the percentage of students that submitted ACT scores, or the percentage of students that submitted SAT scores. The maximum of the range is the percentage of students that submitted ACT scores plus the percentage of students that submitted SAT scores. 
        • The commentary at the bottom of the panel summarizes findings and includes a blue link to help verify you've satisfied the conditions for applying test-optional. 

      • Summary View.  We'll also call this out in the Summary view under the column called "Consider Test Optional."


    Things to keep in mind:

    • Test score and at least one other credential required.  For the test-optional feature to work, you'll still need to enter your SAT/ACT score along with at least one other credential  (e.g. GPA or class rank).  If you haven't taken the SAT or ACT yet, use your PSAT or Pre-SAT as a proxy.  If neither is available, consider taking an online practice test to get an approximation.
    • Test score must be weaker than other credentials.  In cases where both GPA and class rank can be used to evaluate academic performance, test-optional is only considered when your standardized test scores are weaker than both.
    • Categories with a question mark. Since the student has no assessable academic credentials, College Kickstart will automatically place them in the mid-50th percentile.
    • Check with your counselor.  Always consult your college counselor for confirmation and consideration of the bigger picture.
    • Confirm you've satisfied the requirements.  Always confirm you've satisfied the conditions for applying test-optional, as many schools will only allow you to apply this way if you exceed a minimum GPA or agree to provide an additional essay, recommendation or suite of AP/SAT II subject tests in lieu of your test score.
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