Understanding Standardized Testing in Today's College Admissions

act college admissions college applications sat standardized test Feb 12, 2024

3 Key Takeaways

  • Standardized Testing Remains a Keystone in College Admissions: Despite ongoing debates and the emergence of test-blind institutions, standardized tests like the SAT or ACT continue to play a significant role in college admissions for the majority of schools.
  • The Landscape of College Admissions is Evolving: With the rise of test-blind schools, such as the prestigious University of California System, the college admissions process is becoming more diverse in its requirements, reflecting a shift towards a more holistic evaluation of applicants.
  • Strategic Test Planning is Essential: Understanding the difference between test-optional and test-required colleges is crucial for students to navigate their college admissions journey effectively, allowing them to optimize their application strategy to enhance their chances of admission to their top-choice schools.

In the competitive arena of college admissions, standardized testing has long stood as a pivotal element of the application process. At Anja Education Consultants, we've observed firsthand the weight that these tests can carry in the journey toward higher education. The SAT and ACT, in particular, have been traditional staples, acting as gatekeepers that can significantly influence a student's chances of admission to their perfect match schools.

The Significance of Standardized Testing

"Why is this testing plan important?" This question echoes the concerns of many students and parents as they navigate the complex landscape of college admissions. The answer lies in the current stance of colleges on standardized testing. Despite a growing movement towards more holistic application reviews, the reality is that, for the majority of institutions, standardized test scores remain a critical consideration in their evaluation process. This includes both test-optional and test-required colleges, each with its unique approach to integrating test scores into admissions decisions.

The Evolving Admissions Landscape

The landscape of college admissions is undeniably evolving. Institutions like the University of California System, encompassing renowned campuses such as UCLA and UC Berkeley, have adopted test-blind policies, signaling a significant shift. These schools do not consider standardized test scores at all, even if submitted. This move reflects a growing recognition of the need for a more comprehensive approach to evaluating applicants, one that considers the myriad of talents and experiences a student brings to the table beyond their ability to perform on a standardized test.

However, it's crucial to understand that these test-blind institutions are exceptions rather than the norm. Most colleges at this point still factor in standardized test scores, placing students in a position where strategic planning around these exams becomes essential.

Navigating Test-Optional and Test-Required Colleges

The distinction between test-optional and test-required colleges is more than just semantic. For test-optional schools, students have the choice to submit their SAT or ACT scores if they believe these scores enhance their application. This policy provides an opportunity for applicants to showcase their strengths in other areas if they feel that their test scores do not accurately reflect their academic capabilities.

On the other hand, test-required colleges maintain the traditional stance that standardized test scores are a mandatory component of the application. For students targeting these institutions, excelling on the SAT or ACT is indispensable, underscoring the importance of a well-thought-out testing plan.

At Anja Education Consultants, led by our Founder and CEO Anjali Maazel, we emphasize the importance of understanding these distinctions. With our unique approach, including insights from a former Princeton University admissions interviewer, we guide our clients through the maze of standardized testing. Our aim is not just to navigate but to excel, ensuring our students are optimally positioned for success.

Crafting a Strategic Testing Plan

The question of whether to take standardized tests, and which scores to submit, is more nuanced than ever. Our advice to students is tailored, considering the individual's academic profile, target schools, and the broader context of their application. We believe in a personalized strategy that aligns with each student's unique aspirations and strengths.

For those applying to test-optional colleges, we evaluate whether their SAT or ACT scores bolster their application. If so, submitting these scores can provide an advantage. For students eyeing test-required schools, we focus on comprehensive preparation to maximize their test performance.

Moreover, we closely monitor the evolving admissions policies of colleges, providing our clients with the most current and relevant advice. Our success rate speaks volumes, with a 100% track record of getting clients admitted to at least one of their top three schools, including prestigious institutions like Yale and Stanford, and securing scholarships up to $276,000.

Beyond the Test: A Holistic View

While standardized tests remain a significant component, we advocate for a holistic approach to college admissions. Anjali Maazel's multilingual capabilities and global outreach reflect our commitment to understanding and embracing the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our clients. We recognize that each student's journey is unique, and their application should reflect the breadth and depth of their individuality.

In this evolving landscape, we stand firm in our belief that while standardized tests can open doors, they are but one aspect of a multifaceted application process. Our strategy encompasses a broad spectrum of considerations, from academic achievements and extracurricular involvements to personal essays and letters of recommendation, ensuring a well-rounded and compelling application.


As we navigate the complexities of college admissions, the role of standardized testing remains a topic of significant debate. Yet, for now, these tests are an integral part of the equation for most colleges. Understanding the nuances between test-optional and test-required schools, and strategizing accordingly, is crucial.

At Anja Education Consultants, we are committed to guiding our students through this challenging landscape with expertise, personalized advice, and a deep understanding of the admissions process. Our goal is to empower each student to reach their highest potential, unlocking the doors to their future with confidence and clarity.

In the words that guide our approach: the importance of a strategic testing plan cannot be overstated. It is a critical step in a journey filled with ambition, hard work, and the promise of a bright future. Let us navigate this journey together, towards the realization of your educational dreams.


Video Transcription

Anjali Maazel

Anjali Maazel

Founder and CEO of Anja Education Consultants

At Anja Education Consultants, we pride ourselves on the exceptional expertise of our Founder and CEO, Anjali Maazel. With over 15 years of experience as an alumna interviewer for Princeton University, our team, led by Anjali, brings a wealth of knowledge in college admissions. Our interdisciplinary approach, which melds arts, international education, and public relations, allows us to provide unparalleled guidance in college planning. The cornerstone of our success is the proprietary Talent Development 3D Process™, a unique strategy that has achieved a remarkable 100% success rate in securing admissions for our clients to at least one of their top three preferred schools. As a respected Ted Talk speaker and a sought-after authority in college admissions, we are frequently invited by high schools across the globe to share our insights and strategies, empowering students to reach their full potential in the competitive world of college admissions.
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