Is your teen thinking about a college entrance exams in 2022? Many of you are, but not everyone will have to take an admissions exam. What if your teen already has college credit- does that matter? Here is what you need to know if you’re trying to avoid college admissions exams.
Unlike exams that award college credit, college admissions exams are just tests to gain admission.
Fairtest.org. Many colleges have stopped relying on standardized tests to make college admissions decisions. Fairtest.org is an up-to-date list of all colleges that do not require tests for college admissions purposes.
QUESTION: If my teen earns college credit in high school, will they still need to take an admissions exam?
ANSWER: If the college you’re targeting requires incoming freshman to take an admissions exam, then probably yes. Teens that earn college credit in high school are still incoming freshman (people who earn college credit after high school can become transfer applicants), so you should expect your student to have to meet all the regular freshman application requirements. In addition to looking at the Fair test link above, know that most community colleges do NOT require admissions testing, and often students who earn an associate degree before transferring to a 4-year college may be exempt from an admissions exam.
QUESTION: Is it possible to go to college without taking an admissions exam?
ANSWER: Yes!! In fact, while many students will choose to take the test, if you’re in the other camp of not wanting to test, there is no shortage of colleges to choose from. Let’s run the numbers and options. There are a lot of different types of post-secondary (after high school) colleges and schools.
- Category 1) we’ll lump together vocational / trade school / career / boot camp/ apprenticeship/ certificate, or other educational program whose highest award is a 2-year degree or higher. In that category, a standardized exam admissions requirement would be highly unusual though other types of tests may be given in some cases. There are thousands of programs in this category.
- Category 2) the 2-year community colleges and junior colleges. These colleges may award certificates or degrees that may or may not transfer to a 4-year college. There are just under 1,200 community colleges in the USA. In this category, a standardized exam admissions requirement would be highly unusual though other types of tests may be given. It is typical for a community college to use a placement test to determine proper placement in an English or math course, but test results are not tied to admission.
- Category 3) the “open enrollment colleges” which are not as well known as a category because colleges doesn’t often advertise that they accept all qualified students. In fact, if you visit the US News 2022 Best National Universities Ranking, you’ll find over 100 RANKED COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES with acceptance rates over 90%. That’s just about 1/3 of the best of the best! Schools on this list often also appear on lists that include “test not required” or “test option” simply because they also fit that category. Since it can be tricky to locate these colleges (most lists are incomplete), one strategy is to look at the college’s admissions page on their website. If they DO NOT sort students into 2 categories: Freshman / Transfer Applicant, you can bet you’re looking at an open enrollment college. Also, visit US News to view individual college admissions data. That site is somewhat limited if you don’t have a subscription, but you can see acceptance data without paying. In this category, a standardized exam admissions requirement would be high unusual. This category requires a student to hold a high school diploma or GED and may have other eligibility criteria, but upon meeting that criteria, the student will generally be admitted.
- Category 4) temporarily test optional colleges. In 2020, many colleges came forward in announcing a temporary policy change, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unclear whether or not these colleges will return to a test requirement in the coming years (so far, many haven’t). “To assure students that test-optional policies really are in place, more than 500 colleges signed a statement in August from the National Association for College Admission Counseling to confirm their commitment to these policies. Signatories to the statement can be found on the NACAC website.” In this category, a standardized exam is currently not required.
- Category 5) The National Fair Test List of colleges is updated on a regular basis. They collect data on 4-year colleges that award a bachelor’s degree or higher. There are about 2,300 colleges in this category, and for 2022, 1,800 have identified as “no test” required or “test optional.” In this category, a standardized exam is currently not required. “Fair Test’s list of schools not requiring ACT or SAT scores from current high school juniors includes all eight members of the Ivy League, other selective private institutions such as Emory, Rice, and Stanford, and many flagship public universities such as Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, Wisconsin and the University of California. Nearly all of the nation’s most selective liberal arts colleges will also remain test optional through fall 2022, including Amherst, Bowdoin, Swarthmore and Wellesley.“
- Category 6) The leftovers. When we pull out the all programs, colleges, and universities that don’t require standardized exams, we are left with about 700 4-year universities that ARE REQUIRING students to submit an admission exam for consideration.
QUESTION: I know my teen won’t need an admissions exam. Should we do one anyway?
ANSWER: If you’re undecided, then you might want to consider it, but if you know they won’t need it, why would you take it? As a homeschooler, it may feel like “everyone” else takes these exams and your teen will be an outsider if they don’t do one. There are many ways to assure your teen can handle college-level learning, the most straight-forward of them is to simply begin earning college credit in high school. Knowing that your teen has a stockpile of college credit before they graduate high school will put your mind at ease and give them a good head start. Again, if you’re not sure, that’s a different question, but there is no reason to join the bandwagon when you don’t have to.
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Need to take the TSI, Accuplacer, Compass, or another placement exam? You might be able to have it waived by completing a course instead.
Accuplacer is the brand name of a very widely used college placement test. Community colleges often use this exam to assess an incoming student’s ability to do “college level” work. It isn’t worth college credit, but it sometimes stands in the way of enrolling in a dual enrollment program.