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Test-Optional, Test-Flexible, Test-Blind: What’s the Difference?!

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Starting in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world as we knew it, many colleges and universities waived test score submission requirements for first-year applicants. In the years that followed, most schools continued with this trend; however, different terms started popping up to clarify the ways in which admissions would (or would not) consider applicants’ test scores. We’re here to clear them up for you.


According to the University of Pittsburgh, “If a school or program has a test-optional admissions process, each applicant gets to choose whether or not to submit their ACT or SAT scores. In other words, submitting your test scores is not a requirement for admissions.” We’ve found that test-optional admissions is the most common of its kind, with admissions departments considering test scores should applicants choose to submit them; applications submitted without test scores face no penalty or disadvantage.

Should you submit your test scores to a test-optional institution? It’s completely up to you!


Some schools use the terms test-optional and test-flexible interchangeably; however, there is a small difference between the two. While test-optional schools take a neutral stance regarding test score submissions, test-flexible schools prefer applicants to submit standardized test scores but are happy to review applications without them. Here’s a quote from admissions at test-flexible Auburn University, “while we encourage students to submit standardized test scores, they are not required for admission consideration.”

Should you submit your test scores to a test-flexible institution? It’s probably in your best interest to take standardized tests and submit the scores; however, it’s not a requirement.


With test-blind admissions policies, schools do not consider test scores whatsoever, so there is no point in sending them. Here’s what the UC Office of the President had to say about its new test-blind policies, “campuses will not consider test scores for California public and independent high school applicants in admissions selection, a practice known as ‘test-blind’ admissions.”

Should you submit your test scores to a test-optional institution? No! Why bother? No one is going to look at them anyway.

We hope this little breakdown helps you in your college admissions journey. To find out what test-optional policies mean for your applications as a whole, click here!

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