Understanding 'Test Optional'

We’re test optional because you’re more than just a number.

Applying to college is stressful enough in a normal year. During a pandemic, everything gets more complicated. St. Edward’s has always tried to make the admission process as personal, individualized and supportive as possible. One way we’re reducing the pressure on high school seniors during the pandemic is by becoming test optional.

If you’re applying to St. Edward’s for the fall 2021 semester or later, you will not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores. We have learned that test scores are not the best way to assess whether a student can be successful at St. Edward’s, so we’re not requiring them. We especially emphasize this test optional status in light of the challenges of testing during the pandemic. As you decide whether to take an SAT or ACT this fall, we encourage you to review the admission requirements of all colleges where you plan to apply and plan accordingly. If you do not need to take a test to apply to other schools, St. Edward’s would encourage you to choose the option of not testing.

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What are we considering instead?

At St. Edward’s, we’ve always had a holistic application review process, and test scores have been only one part of the equation. We are most interested in your grades and the strength of your curriculum: how many years of math, science and foreign language you’ve taken, and how many advanced courses like Honors, AP, IB or dual credit. Our admission counselors each work with a specific region of the country and are responsible for talking with counselors and understanding what type of classes your high school offers and your school’s grading system.

We also consider your ability to construct a thoughtful, well-written essay, as well as your extracurricular involvement in your school or community. In the absence of test scores, your transcript and essay both will carry a bit more weight this year. We think these measures of your academic performance are better indicators of how prepared you are for college than a standardized test you take in one day.

Are we really test-optional?

Yes. We do not need a test score to consider you for admission. Because of our holistic review approach, if you send us scores, we will review them as part of your overall application package – just as we would review an additional recommendation letter or a personal statement. They may help us contextualize your academic performance and give us further insight about your skills. But scores are completely optional.

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Will I be considered for scholarships without SAT or ACT scores?

Yes. We’ll automatically consider all applicants for scholarships — just as we always have — and will base our decisions on your transcript and essay. If you have already taken an SAT or ACT, we encourage you not to retest to try to get a higher score, as it will not affect your admission or scholarship decision.

What about letters of recommendation?

We require one academic letter of recommendation, and you can submit more than one if it will help us understand your academic abilities and accomplishments at your school. Insights from your teacher or counselor help paint a picture of where you shine, where you struggle and how we can support you.

As a Holy Cross university, St. Edward’s seeks to develop the whole person. That means our admission process considers the whole student. Our goal this year is to be as flexible as possible, get to know you as an individual, and approach the application process with empathy for the challenges you’re facing. Please contact us with any questions.

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