Test Optional, Test Flexible and Test Blind. What Does It All Mean for International Students?
Most United States universities and higher education institutions have opted for different approaches with regards to standardized tests requirements for domestic students. With all the challenges we have to face during this covid-19 pandemic, many test centers have been reported to have closed and tests were reported to have been rescheduled at the last minute in some instances. As a result, most of the US colleges have had to adapt to the so-called Test-Optional, Test Flexible or Test Blind approaches for domestic students who were affected by the pandemic and could not achieve the test scores they were hoping for. But what about international students? We will take a look at that but let’s first see what it all means.
What does test optional, test flexible, test blind mean?
Different universities have taken different approaches with respect to standardizes tests requirements. Let’s see what each approach means
Test optional means that students are not required to submit their standardized SAT/ACT test scores as part of their applications. Universities that have opted to take this approach will instead deeply examine the high school academic records of students. Other parts of the application that are scrutinized are the personal statement, any recommendation letters the student may have, any extracurricular activities the student may have been involved in and finally the personal interview. This is generally a good approach for students who are not feeling comfortable including their test scores with their application and would like to have their application based on their grades and accomplishments instead.
Institutions that have taken this approach give students different options for requirement tests. They allow students to submit various test scores as opposed to submitting SAT/ACT scores specifically. Students are allowed to include scores from their SAT Subject tests, AP tests, IB tests, or other school-administered placement tests. Keep in mind that the Test Flexible policy varies from one school to another hence it is recommended to check the exact requirements for each of the schools you are planning to apply for. This information can typically be found on the admissions page of each respective university you are considering.
Compared to schools that are test optional and test flexible, there are only a few schools that have adopted a test blind policy. This basically means that these schools do not require the submission of any standardized test scores nor will they accept them regardless of what the score is. A student may have a perfect SAT score but the university will still not consider it in assessment of the application. It is a very similar approach to the test optional approach in that the school will evaluate the application based on different parts of the application; be it the academic record, high school GPA, work experience or extracurricular activities.
Requirements for international students
Standardized tests requirement may be waived as an application requirement for international students planning to join a US university but they are not waived altogether. Most universities may not require SAT/ACT test scores to be submitted as part of the application, however, they may still require international students to submit proof of the English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) like TOEFL or IELTS. International students who have taken their standardized tests prior to the pandemic and who feel comfortable submitting it with their applications can do so to assist their application evaluation process but may still be required to complete ELPT or in-school placement test.
International freshman students are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores unless they have attended a U.S. high school for three or more years. However, submitting SAT or ACT scores may make you eligible for scholarships at the University. While SAT/ACT scores are not required, international students are mandated to submit the following documents:
- Official academic records, from all schools attended (in original language and an official word for word English translation)
- English proficiency score
- Applicants from non-native English-speaking countries are required to submit a minimum score for TOEFL internet-based (iBT) of 79 or IELTS overall band score of 6.5.
While international students are not required to submit SAT/ACT standardized test scores, they are, however, required to submit English Language Proficiency test scores. Other requirements may include unofficial copies of transcripts from the secondary and post-secondary schools you have attended as well as certificate of finances.
As Virginia’s largest public research university, George Mason university sets the standard for bold, progressive education that serves students and communities. George mason university does not require all international students to submit SAT/ACT test scores, however, other requirements include
- Certified official, original transcripts from all secondary schools as well as official results from any leaving certificates or university entrance exams taken
- International students may be considered for admission with no SAT or ACT test score via the score optional admission program. International applicants, however, applying for engineering or computer science majors within the Volgenau School of Engineering are required to submit SAT or ACT scores.
- Verification of English language proficiency
- Secondary School Report (PDF) and counselor recommendations
- Essay or personal statement on a topic of your choice
First year international students are not required to submit SAT/ACT scores. The list of requirements for international students include:
- Transcripts: Submit your most recent transcripts or mark sheets. Additional materials may be asked for if necessary. All decisions are provisional until a final, official transcript verifying graduation is received. Only transcripts sent directly from the school or stamped and sealed are considered official. If a record is not in English, a certified literal English translation must accompany the transcript.
- Personal Statement: Your personal statement, commonly called an essay, is your opportunity to help us understand what makes you unique beyond your grades and transcripts. Your personal statement will be reviewed during your admission decision, for consideration for any competitive majors, and for financial aid decisions.
- Recommendation letters: one recommendation from a counselor or teacher is required
- English Proficiency Proof: students who wish to be considered for direct or clear admission, they may be asked how they intend to demonstrate English proficiency by submitting TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.
- SAT/ACT: SAT and ACT scores are not required for first-year freshman students applying for any term in 2021. Students who have test scores are welcome to include them in their materials, however, there is no requirement to submit. Admission decisions for students who choose not to submit test scores will not be negatively impacted whatsoever because scores are not submitted.
For international students who live outside the United States, or attended secondary school outside of the United States and applying to SLU generally takes four steps
- Complete an online application
- Submit transcripts of all secondary work
- Proof of English Language Proficiency
- Although not required, international students are encouraged to submit resume of activities and letters of recommendation. Applicants are also encouraged to complete an admission interview.
The list of top-class universities that have gone test optional is endless. As an international student who would like to explore a variety of university options, get in touch with us at Studygram for a free counselling session with one of our experienced educational counselling experts.
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