spark-admissions-logo Free Consultation
  • Blog
  • > College Admissions

What Does Test Blind Mean?

As colleges and universities have sorted through their thoughts on standardized testing, many different models have arisen in the past few years. Some schools have decided to go test-optional, partly motivated by the absence of testing during the pandemic and partly due to socioeconomic factors. Many feel that standardized testing is an unfair, as it provides an advantage to those with higher socioeconomic status.

A 2012 study published in Psychological Science“The Role of Socioeconomic Status in SAT-Grade Relationships and in College Admissions Decisions,” examines the relationship between socioeconomic status, secondary-school grades, college admissions and college freshman grade-point average. The study found that socioeconomic status and SAT scores are positivity correlated, meaning that those with more resources perform better on the SAT.

So, what does test blind mean? It means that colleges that are test blind literally do not accept an SAT or ACT test score. Students cannot submit scores and they will never be seen by the admissions committee. Some of the most notable test blind schools are CalTech and all of the University of California and California State University schools, including Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, among others.

According to CalTech, which is ranked 7th in the country, according to U.S News & World Report. According to CalTech’s Jared Leadbetter who chairs the school’s admissions committee, “A consensus has developed among faculty and professional staff involved in admissions at Caltech, that is, that numerous other key attributes of applications serve as stronger indicators of the potential for student success here.” In particular, the predictive power of standardized testing on how a student performs in college “appears to dissipate as students progress through the first-year core curriculum.”

Establishing a test blind policy allows all college applicants to feel like they are on an even playing field. For schools that are test optional, high school students can still feel like they are at a disadvantage if they do not submit scores. So, while it is a nice option, a test optional policy still favors students who can submit strong standardized test scores.

Additionally, students provide plenty of information to admissions committees that can help them to adequately evaluate a student without standardized test scores. Arguably, how a student performs academically in high school is much more important than a 3-hour test. A student’s transcript shows the courses they have taken, how rigorous they are and how they have performed across a wide range of subjects and how they have progressed academically throughout high school. This is a much deeper view of how a student performs academically.

College admissions committees also see students’ resumes and can see how students are spending their time outside of the classroom. Many of these activities show other important characteristics about students that colleges care about. Are students involved in their communities? Are they participating in community service and do they belong to communities that are important to them? Are students involved in extracurriculars that support their academic interests? Are they dedicated to their activities and are they taking leadership roles? Seeing answers to some of these questions on a student’s resume can show schools how dedicated these students are to community and to learning, which is what schools care about the most.

Now that the impact of the pandemic is over and students can more easily have access to testing many schools are re-evaluating their testing policies. Many schools that were test-optional are going back to requiring the SAT and ACT for the high school class of 2025. However, colleges are still considering their test optional policies for this class and we will be keeping a close eye on what test policy each school will establish.

There is an organization called FairTest that keeps track of colleges’ testing policies. Here is FairTest’s most recent list of testing policies at U.S. colleges and universities.

What does the changing standardized testing landscape mean for you?

This is always the most important question. How much do you want to study for the SAT or ACT? Are you willing to put in the time to study for the test you choose and can you make enough progress on your test score to make it worthwhile? Now that more schools will be returning to requiring standardized testing, there may be big impacts on your school list and which schools may be the best fit for your from an admissions standpoint.

The SAT and ACT do not just disadvantage those with lower socioeconomic status, but they also disadvantage students with a wide range of learning challenges. Students with ADHD, anxiety, language-based learning disabilities and more can perform strongly at school while not performing well on standardized testing.

To get clarity on what testing plan is right for you, how to approach the college admissions process, what schools should be on your list, please reach out to us for a free initial consultation. Spark Admissions is one of the nation’s leading college admissions consulting firms and we are here for you to help you navigate the complexity of this process (and truly every detail of this process) so that you can find and get into the right college or you.

Subscribe to our newsletter for college admissions news

Related articles from the Spark Admissions blog

Spark Admissions has the highest college admissions success rate in the country.

Contact us to learn more about our admissions consulting services.

Schedule Your Free Consultation