Everything You Need to Know About Applying Test-Optional

Johnson Hall and fountain in spring with flowers. blooming.

According to, more than 1,800 of U.S. colleges and universities are test-optional for fall 2023, including Meredith. But if you’re like many students, you’re not sure what that means for you. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about what it means to apply test-optional.

What does test-optional mean?

Test-optional means that an entrance exam, like the SAT or ACT, is not a required component of the application for admission.  Simply put, test-optional colleges – stating that applicants are neither advantaged or disadvantaged by their choice – leave the decision to submit an SAT or ACT score to the applicant.

What should I consider when deciding if I’ll submit scores or apply test-optional?

At Meredith, we’re advising students to keep the decision process simple. If you’ve taken the SAT or ACT and you believe it represents your ability, submit the score. If you believe your score does not represent your ability or you’ve been unable to secure a seat at a testing center, choose the test-optional path.

With or without a test score, how will my application be evaluated?

Colleges and universities weigh components of your application differently and most consider your high school record to be the most important academic credential. Your essay is also very important.

Meredith has traditionally taken a holistic approach to reading applications and offering decisions. A review of your school record shows how you’ve taken advantage of academic opportunities at your school and grade trends. Your writing skills are evaluated and your potential for investing in the Meredith community is considered. Additionally, we have a significant interest in getting to know you before an admission decision is offered. A visit, either in-person or virtually, is the best way to accomplish this. Be sure to reach out to your admission counselor early in the application process.

How do I inform the schools I’m applying to about my test score plan?

Most colleges and universities include a “testing plan” question on their application for admission. You’ll be able to state, “I’m applying test-optional,” or “I’ll be submitting a test score.” Read the instructions carefully.

What if I’ve already submitted my test score or I’m signed up to take a test but I want to apply test-optional?

If you’ve already submitted your test score and want to apply test-optional, be sure to state on your application that you’re applying test-optional. Some schools will suppress your test score from your record. Others will not include your test score in the application reading process.

If you’ve signed up for a test and are certain that you want to apply test-optional, consider canceling your test appointment.

Will applying test-optional hurt my chances for scholarships or financial aid?

Academic merit scholarships are awarded differently from school to school. It’s VERY important that you carefully read the information on school websites about scholarships.

At Meredith, every student who applies and is admitted to Meredith is considered for academic merit awards, including Impact Scholarships, or tuition grants.  However, some scholarships do require test scores, such as Honors, Teaching Fellows, and STEM Scholars programs. To be considered for these awards, you must submit a test score.

Applying for and receiving financial assistance from the federal or state government is not dependent on submitting a test score.

It’s always a good idea to email your admission counselor with questions about applying for admission. They are committed to helping you navigate the process. Email to connect with one today.

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