The University of Chicago recently announced its new test-optional policy beginning with the Class of 2023. UChicago now joins a list of highly-ranked schools who also give students the option to submit their test scores. The George Washington University, Wake Forest University, and Wesleyan University are also on that list, to name a few. This is great news for students who have not done well on standardized tests or do not have access to test prep services. But what exactly does the test-optional policy mean for you and your application?
*The following information is about the University of Chicago and their specific application. For other schools, please view their websites for updated information, as the information below may not apply.
1. If you are a domestic first-year applicant and feel that your test scores do not accurately reflect your academic preparedness or potential, you may choose to not supply your test scores with your application.
UChicago’s new test-optional policy allows students to choose what information best portrays their skills and college readiness. Students who choose to submit their test scores can share either official or self-reported scores. The application does not require official score reports unless they gain acceptance and choose to enroll.
Regardless of what test scores students choose to submit, students should submit supplemental materials that they feel represent a significant talent, passion, or achievement. This includes but is not limited to creative writing projects, research, and business plans. This is a great opportunity for students to further distinguish themselves from their peers by showing admissions officers who they are and what passions they have. Students also have the option of self reporting test results from AP exams and SAT-II subject tests.
2. You are more than your GPA or test score.
UChicago’s admissions process uses a holistic review approach to every application they receive. One piece of information, such as academic and extracurricular record, test scores, or letters of recommendation, can not solely determine whether you are a good fit. Instead, UChicago is more interested in knowing who you are: what is your story? What activities are most meaningful for you? Writing in your own voice and being yourself, and not who you think they want to see, is what UChicago looks for in their applicants.
3. A new, optional two-minute video introduction is open to all students.
The video introduction replaces the optional alumni and on-campus interviews. This gives students the chance to insert their own voice into their application. This is another great opportunity for students to add their personal spin to their application; each may address any relevant information that didn’t appear before in the application. The video recording does not need to be extensively rehearsed or edited.
Overall, UChicago’s new test-optional policy gives students more flexibility in choosing how to best represent themselves on their applications. Test scores are only as important as you think they are. There are other ways to distinguish yourself from others such as submitting supplemental materials or a video introduction, and being yourself on the application.