Emily Almas with WashU Bear Mascot

Ketchup. In other words, what does WashU mean by “Test Optional?”

IMPORTANT NOTE: WashU has extended our test optional policy for students applying for admission for Fall 2022. Visit our Fall 2021 and 2022 Applicant Info page for more information.

Hello World!

Let’s kick off this new blog from your’s truly with a bit of an introduction AND a little review of optional versus required.

My name is Emily Almas and I am the Assistant Vice Provost and Director of Admissions at WashU. That’s a longwinded and fancy way of saying that I get the great pleasure of getting to know our applicants each year and the TRUE JOY of welcoming you to our community and our campus. I also get to do fun things like dance with the WashU Bear and take pictures of my dog in WashU attire (though I don’t think that was in the job description…those might have been my additions).

My first post is on an important topic. This year we are test optional for students applying for the Class of 2025 (in other words, current high school seniors who want to start college in the fall of 2021).

We get a lot of questions about what “test optional” means, so I thought we could spend some time digging into this.

There are certain things in life that may appear optional, but really aren’t. You know:

  • Wearing your seatbelt (always wear a seatbelt!)
  • Wearing a helmet when you’re riding a bicycle (always wear a helmet!)
  • Tipping wait staff at a restaurant in the U.S.A. (are you sensing a theme here?)

Then there are things that are truly optional:

  • Applying with standardized testing (SAT or ACT) to WashU for the Class of 2025
  • Deciding to use social media (what’s your take?)
  • Ketchup on fries. Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? Prefer hot sauce or ranch or something else entirely?

Did you catch that? Applying with standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, is entirely optional this year.

A lot is going on in the world (that might be the understatement of 2020). Most high school students have had their lives radically altered at the moment. Maybe you’re doing virtual learning from home, or your family has been impacted in some way, or your life is just very different than before.

We know many students have not been able to sit for standardized tests like they had planned, or maybe did not have the opportunity to re-test like they might have wanted to do. So, we are providing all applicants for the class entering in fall 2021 the option of whether to submit standardized test scores with their application.

What does that mean?

Simply put, it means that standardized test scores are not required to complete your application for admission for the class of 2025. It is up to you – the applicant – to decide if you would like to submit test scores or not.

So should I submit test scores?

If you have not been able to take the ACT or SAT do not worry about trying to take the test.

Let me say that once more for emphasis: Do. Not. Stress. About. Trying. To. Take. The. Test.

Select the answer “No, I do not have scores from the ACT or SAT, had limited opportunity to sit for exams, or do not feel my scores accurately reflect my abilities. I am electing to use the standardized testing waiver.”

Preferred Testin Plan

If you have taken the ACT or SAT but were having a bad day, or maybe you were planning to retake the test but were not able to, that is OK. If you feel your test score is not reflective of your academic ability, you do not need to share it with us. In this case you would also elect to use the standardized testing waiver.

If you have taken the ACT or SAT and you are pleased with your scores and would like them considered along with the other components of your application, that’s great! Select “Yes, I am submitting standardized test scores (SAT and/or ACT). Please utilize my SAT and/or ACT in your review.” We accept self-reported scores on the Common App and Coalition App. If you enroll at WashU and submitted unofficial scores as part of the application process, we will then ask you to send official score reports from testing agencies.

How will you make admissions decisions?

We already complete what’s called a “holistic” review of each application. That means that our readers take into consideration every aspect of your application – your grades, your letters of recommendation, your personal essay and writing supplement, and any supplemental materials you might provide such as a portfolio or 90-second video – to get a complete picture of who you are as a student and a person. Test scores are one piece of the larger puzzle.

What about AP scores, IB scores, or other (non-SAT or ACT) results I want to share?

Go right ahead! You can apply under our test waiver for the SAT or ACT and still submit AP scores, IB scores, SAT Subject Test scores, or any other test results you may have and want to share. Simply provide these scores on your application or notify your Admissions Services Coordinator.

If I don’t submit test scores, are there other things I should send?

We invite you to share with us information that you feel best highlights your academic potential and preparedness. While no specific items are required, examples might include:

  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher in a discipline related to what the you want to study (for example, a math teacher if you are interested in STEM or Business)
  • Other forms of standardized testing or academic assessments (such as AP or IB exam results, SAT Subject Tests, or state exams)
  • Making full use of the application questions to highlight your involvement in extracurricular, research, work or family commitments.

What if I need to change my answer about submitting testing?

No problem! Contact your Admissions Services Coordinator (by November 20 for Early Decision I applicants and January 15 for Early Decision II and Regular Decision applicants) and explain the situation. They will be happy to help you.

I still have questions.

These are truly unprecedented times and we know that we are not able to account for everyone’s unique situation in a short blog post. We are here to help you. Contact the Admissions Officer for your area and they will be able to assist you with any questions or issues you have completing your application.

So… ketchup? Ranch? Just remember, this year we are truly test optional. We can’t wait to get to know you better through your application.