Test-blind colleges are an untapped and underrated resource in the world of college admissions. Now, practically every college under the sun has announced they’re moving to test-optional. But as we’ve discussed in a previous article, test-optional doesn’t mean “test scores no longer matter.” College admissions experts[1] are emerging to set the record straight[2] on the real limits of test-optional.[3] Simply put, test-blind colleges do exactly what test-optional vaguely promise they do.

How so?

Test-blind colleges enable students to eliminate ACT and SAT scores from the equation. In this article, you’ll learn how to leverage test-blind admissions.

Throughout this post, we’ll cover the following. First, we’ll define what exactly a test-blind college is. Second (and more importantly), we’ll see how test-blind colleges differ from test-optional colleges.

What is a test-blind college?

Simply put, test-blind colleges will not consider an applying student’s ACT or SAT scores. As a matter of fact, many test-blind colleges won’t allow students to submit standardized test scores. Period.

Definition of test-blind colleges: And admissions policy where a college will not consider an applying student's standardized test-scores to determine if the student is admitted into college.

Thus, test-blind colleges provide an alternative way to apply to college. Rather than submitting SAT or ACT scores, students at test-blind schools submit an application that includes their GPA, class rank, multiple essays, etc.

Test-Blind Colleges are not Test-Optional Colleges

Parents and students must understand the difference between Test-Blind and Test-Optional. If not, they’re more likely to be misled when students apply for college. First, let’s specify what test-optional means and how the policy works.

test-optional, ad admissions policy where a college doesn't require applying students to submit their ACT or SAT scores.

What are test-optional colleges?

Test-optional colleges are universities that don’t require students to submit their test scores. These universities often claim that if students choose to not submit their test scores that they will not disadvantaged… or so the story goes.

Elite test-optional colleges Advertise test-blind benefits

Yet, test-optional doesn’t mean “test scores no longer matter.” And that’s the key difference between test-blind and test-optional colleges. If a university is test-optional, that means reviewing ACT and SAT scores remain an integral part of their admissions process.

Despite this, elite universities advertise their test-optional policies with test-blind benefits. Unsurprisingly, they do this for several reasons, all of which benefit their institution. Inevitably, this self-serving PR tactic miss leads parents when their children apply to college. And tragically, this gets a student’s hopes up they can get admitted into their dream school, just to be disappointed when the rejection comes.

Test-optional usually means “test-preferred”

For starters, a test-optional college is still a college. And every college has this in common: they want high-performing students. Furthermore, high-performing students are students with high GPAs and competitive ACT and SAT scores. While it’s a heavily debated claim, it’s often believed that high-scoring students are more likely to graduate college[4][5] and are also more likely to enhance the reputation of the institution. High test scores enable applying to students to demonstrate their academic competitiveness.

As a result, students submitting higher ACT and SAT scores have a distinct advantage over their peers who don’t submit test scores. Thus, as College admissions expert and former Ivy League admissions officer Dr. Aviva Legatt put it, “‘Test-optional’ will always mean ‘test-preferred.’”[6]

Also, students make it easier on admissions officers when they submit ACT and SAT scores. During college application season, admissions officers don’t have it easy. Some admissions officers are forced to review 100 applications a day, which often gives them 8 minutes to review each application![7] Consequently, anything that helps admissions officers reliably ranks students helps them speed their application review along. And when a student makes their job easier, they help manage the impression they make on the admissions officer.

student taking achievable act test prep course

Advantages of Test-Blind Colleges

Students gain two primary benefits when applying to test-blind colleges. First, the most coveted benefit is that test scores truly don’t matter. To clarify, students with low test scores can rest easy when applying to test-blind colleges. Their ACT and SAT test scores will not be considered for admissions purposes.

Perks of Test Blind list: First, no ACT or SAT test scores required. Second, Easier chance of acceptance

Secondly, excluding the UC schools and a few others,[8] test-blind schools are relatively open and accessible for most students. In other words, students might find it easier to get admitted to test-blind colleges.

Disadvantages of Test-Blind Colleges

Yes, test-blind helps students to sidestep testing requirements. However, test-blind colleges aren’t without their flaws. First, there are few test-blind colleges. At the moment, test-blind colleges number in the 40s. Comparatively, this is a tiny number compared to the immense number of test-optional colleges (around 1400). This means there may not be a test-blind college in your state.


Downside of test blind list. First, fewer colleges. Second, may not apply to scholarships

Second, just because a college’s admissions are test-blind, that doesn’t their scholarships are. The NKU adopted test-blind admissions but still requires ACT scores for their Presidential Scholarship.[9]

Who Should Apply to Test-Blind Colleges?

In conclusion, students not scoring competitively on the ACT or SAT should consider applying test blind. As it stands, test-blind admissions remain the single, full-proof way to remove test scores from their college applications. Lastly, don’t confuse test-blind colleges with test-optional colleges.

If you’re not applying to test-blind colleges and would like to raise your ACT score, schedule a free consultation with us. We’ll connect with one of our seasoned test-prep tutors who will make sure you’re ready on test day. To see what testing materials our tutors use, check out our resource page.

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  1. Larriva, Matt. “Faults in the Case for Test Optional.” Powerful Prep, Powerfulprep.com, 11 Aug. 2021, www.powerfulprep.com/faults-in-the-case-for-test-optional/.
  2. Aviva Legatt, For The Inquirer. “Colleges’ Grand Promise of ‘Test-Optional’ Admissions Is Self-Serving: Opinion.” Https://Www.inquirer.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 July 2021, www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/college-admissions-tests-optional-blind-sat-act-20210726.html
  3. Gray, Marc. “What Test-Optional Colleges Aren’t Telling You” Odyssey College Prep, Odyssey College Prep LLC, 1 Sept. 2021, odysseycollegeprep.com/what-test-optional-colleges-arent-telling-you/.
  4. “Predictor of Success.” Manhattan Review, 29 Mar. 2021, www.manhattanreview.com/act-predictor-of-college-success/.
  5. Bleyaert, Barbara. “ACT and College Success.” Education Partnerships, Inc., Education Partnerships, Inc. Web Site: Http://Www.educationpartnerships.org, 5 Feb. 2010, eric.ed.gov/?id=ED537914.
  6. Aviva Legatt, For The Inquirer. “Colleges’ Grand Promise of ‘Test-Optional’ Admissions Is Self-Serving: Opinion.” Https://Www.inquirer.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 July 2021, www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/college-admissions-tests-optional-blind-sat-act-20210726.html
  7. Korn, Melissa. “Some Elite COLLEGES Review an Application in 8 Minutes (or Less).” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 31 Jan. 2018, www.wsj.com/articles/some-elite-colleges-review-an-application-in-8-minutes-or-less-1517400001.
  8. “Two-Thirds of All U.S. Colleges and Universities Are Test-Optional OR Test-Blind for FALL 2021 APPLICANTS.” FairTest.org, Fair Test, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, 2021, www.fairtest.org/two-thirds-of-us-colleges-and-universities-are-test-optional.
  9. “Merit-Based Scholarships.” Northern Kentucky University, Greater Cincinnati Region, Northern Kentucky University, 2021, inside.nku.edu/financialaid/programs/scholarships/is-freshman/merit-based.html


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