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Please don't test

A short message for rising seniors who'll be applying to Oregon State University for the Fall of 2021.

Please don't test. You don't need an SAT or an ACT.

Last night news broke that two students in Edmond, Oklahoma had tested positive for Coronavirus after taking an ACT.  It doesn't mean they contracted the virus there.  It doesn't even mean they necessarily exposed other students who took the test, although both are possible.  It demonstrates that you can and should limit your social contact whenever you can, and that means not sitting in a testing center for a whole afternoon.  Don't take risks you don't need to.

OSU, like almost all universities, has stated publicly that we are test optional.  Some institutions are test-optional for Fall, 2021 only; and some for two years; all the public universities in the state of Oregon are permanently test optional.  And you have to believe those of us who work with students--those who have worked with students for over 35 years, like me--when we say "test optional means test optional."

Like Lee Coffin at Dartmouth, who said it as well as it's been said:

"Optional" is not a trick word. It is not a wink that signals a continued institutional preference for the upcoming admissions cycle. This is not a moment for euphemisms or gimmicks; there should be no parsing of intent with this amended testing policy. It is a clear response to an unprecedented moment that requires admission officers to reimagine some of the elements we have historically required as we reassure anxious students about their upcoming applications. Worries about oversubscribed test sites, anxiety regarding limited registration access and the incongruity of test prep during a quarantine can be set aside.

If you have tests and you want to submit them, feel free to do so.  If you don't have tests, don't decide you need to take the SAT or ACT on our account.  It's not worth it to you, and it's not worth it to us.  I've written for over a decade about how unimportant these tests are, and they've become even more trivial now, when students literally have to risk their lives to take them.

Don't.  If you want me to talk to your parents to convince them, have them text me.  My work cell is 541-908-7210 and I'll call them.  (East coasters, we're on Pacific Time.  Adjust accordingly.)  Or email me (any time).

I can't speak for admissions people at other institutions, but if you get even a hint that they're encouraging you to take a test to make them feel better about admitting you, ask yourself what that says about them, and what that might say about how they'll treat you in the future.

This year has been hard for everyone.  We in admissions were teenagers at one point, and we feel bad that much of your high school experience has been taken from you.  Don't make it worse by risking your life to take a test you don't need.

We want to talk to you, not about you, Out Here in Oregon.


Unknown said…
Bravo, OSU and thanks for spelling it out with no minced words. This college counselor is thrilled to see it put plain and simple - test optional means test optional. Got it and thanks.

Anonymous said…
Well said Jon. Much appreciated. I very well may be distributing your number to the parents I work with. They need to hear this.
This came at a perfect time as more testing is closing and parents are considering taking the test in other states. The kids are so trained to have a "number" or score that it's hard for them to let go. Thank you for sending this. This will be the 4th cancelled test date and I see more coming.
Unknown said…
What happens to the $6,000 a year scholarships that are tied to the SAT and ACT scores?
Unknown said…
Will SAT/ACT be required for Honors College admission?