Test Flexible in College Admissions?

Test flexible is the latest term in college admissions that impacts which tests student are required to take and submit to colleges. Many students and parents are familiar with the term "test-optional" and "test-flexible" is basically a variation of that theme.

So far just a handful of colleges are labeling the test submission policy as "test-flexible", but I would expect those numbers to increase over the next few years as many colleges realize that standardized tests, like the SAT and ACT exams, are not always the best measurement of a student's chance for success in college.

What is Test Flexible?

A “test-flexible” policy requires students to send test scores, but it may allow for different testing options in place of the SAT or ACT. Some schools may waive the test requirement if you meet a minimum GPA or are applying to a specific program. Other schools will allow you to send AP test scores and SAT Subject Test scores instead of the SAT or ACT exams.  The reason colleges allow for such flexibility is that different tests may demonstrate subject mastery and thus reveal your own particular academic interests and motivations.

For example, New York University (NYU) states its testing policy as:

To be eligible for admission, applicants are expected to submit results from one of the following testing options:

  • The SAT Reasoning Test; or 
  • The ACT (the Writing Test is not required); or
  • Three SAT Subject Tests scores; or
  • Three AP Exam scores; or
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma ; or
  • Three IB higher-level exam scores

Test Flexible Vs. Test Optional

Whereas a "test-flexible" college often encourages students to send some form of testing results, a “test optional” policy leaves the decision up to you of whether or not you want to send your SAT or ACT scores. Test optional colleges do not require you to send your scores. Instead, the student must decide whether or not the test results are an accurate representation of your academic skill and potential. "Test-optional" gives the student more choice and control over how to best present strengths to admissions officers. Each year more and more colleges are getting on the "test-optional" bandwagon (click here for an alphabetized and printable list of such schools). 

Which Colleges Are Test Flexible?

Right now, the list of schools identifying themselves as "test-flexible" is small, maybe twenty or thirty colleges so far. Among the more selective colleges are NYU, Brandeis, Rochester, Colorado College, Bryn Mawr and Colby College.

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