Test Optional is Not Really Optional
Due to the pandemic and school closures, many high school students found themselves without SAT/ACT test scores. While some kept on getting their test date postponed and eventually canceled, other students were unable to find a test center located in their own state! To make things easier for everyone involved, most colleges decided to make standardized test scores optional. At first glance, not requiring test scores seemed like one less thing to worry about. However, taking out this requirement increased the competitiveness of applications as a whole. Feeling emboldened, students applied to more places than ever before, with applications soaring as high as 48% at UC Berkeley and UCLA. Applicants who did have great scores certainly had some objective advantage. Applicants without test scores had to shine brighter in other areas and had their grades, activities, and essays more heavily scrutinized. Overall, this 2020-2021 college admissions cycle was perhaps the most competitive year to apply to college in modern history.