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Should I submit standardized test scores at a test-optional college?

Grace Lloyd

Grace Robertson Lloyd ’16
Senior Assistant Director of Admission and Coordinator of Virtual Recruitment

Grace Robertson-Lloyd ’16

Question: Should I submit standardized test scores at a test-optional institution like Grinnell?

First, let’s explore what exactly “test optional” means.

In a nutshell, it means that Grinnell does not require any first-year student to submit SAT or ACT scores. However, some prospective students — particularly international student applicants — are still required to submit other test scores that demonstrate their proficiency with the English language.

Why has Grinnell adopted this test-optional policy? Because we understand that a single test can never adequately represent the skills, talent, passions, and drive of any individual. While tests can sometimes be useful in helping us determine how well you are prepared for Grinnell’s rigorous liberal arts curriculum, they are only one indicator among many that we consider to determine whether you can succeed and thrive in our community.

Whether or not you choose to submit a test score, we will look closely at your high school transcript and review your grades within the context of your courses and their varying levels of rigor. Your personal essay, recommendation letters, and engagement outside of the classroom are also important points of consideration in your application for admission.

While we need to know that you are capable of success at Grinnell, that means more than just demonstrated academic proficiency. We want to know who you are, what you believe in, and how you are engaged with your education and community.

To submit or not to submit?

If you think your scores are an accurate representation of your ability, then you should feel free to submit them. If you feel they do not adequately represent your skill set, then don’t submit them.

Here are a couple other points to consider when thinking about submitting your test scores.

  • If you get the score you hoped for, and especially if it’s above average for Grinnell, submitting the score may help you in the admission process.
  • Keep in mind that we consider your test score in context. Even if your score is not above average for Grinnell, but it is for your high school or neighborhood, your score may help you in the admission process.
  • A high SAT or ACT score can offset a low GPA. If you don’t submit a score, we have less information about your academic performance. If you have a low GPA but do well on the SAT or ACT, your test score can be an important indicator of your potential to succeed in college-level classes.

Whether you choose to submit your scores or not, you are required to let us know your decision by the application deadline.

Make sure to check out the requirements and deadlines on our website for complete information on our test-optional policy as well as how to contact an admission counselor.

Thank you for your interest in Grinnell College — I wish you the best throughout the application process.

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