FairTest reports that more than 830 four-year colleges and universities have gone test-optional in recent years. That means that applicants are not required to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of their applications, however they may do so if they wish. But that bodes the question of how admissions officers decide who is qualified and who is not in the absence of standardized test scores? The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported on the views of admissions officers at test-optional colleges and universities. Here’s an overview of what they had to say (we’ve also added a few of our own):

  • Muhlenberg College requires applicants who don’t submit standardized test scores to participate in a personal interview — either by phone or in person – and submit a copy of a graded paper.
  • Goucher College looks closely at applicants’ level of interest in the college.  Included in their application are questions about what other institutions they are applying to, and why they are interested in attending Goucher.
  • After deciding to go test-optional in Fall 2010, Fairfield University also added supplemental questions to the Common Application. They ask applicants to reflect on the school’s missions and vision and how they see themselves as members of the community. Applicants also are encouraged to schedule a campus interview or arrange for one with an alumnus.
  • Salisbury University only allows applicants who have earned a high school GPA of 3.5 to go test-optional, but those applicants must also provide a personal statement to support  their individual achievements.

Despite this wide array of admissions requirements many parents are still confused when it comes to test-optional schools. Jennifer Gayles, assistant director of admissions at Sarah Lawrence College, told the Chronicle that parents are sometimes surprised when they hear the college is test-optional and ask, “Well, what do you look at?”