How are standardized tests used in admission?

Rhiannon Schade
Director of College Counseling
Collegewise of Millburn

Test scores are part of how you are evaluated at many colleges, but they are never the most important consideration. On the College Board’s website or in the college’s Common Data Set you can view the testing profile of any college. There you will see the 25th–75th percentile range of test scores; these indicate that 25% of the student body scored at or below the first number in that range, 50% scored in that range, and 25% scored at or above the higher number in the range.

Most colleges practice holistic admission, meaning scores (or any one factor) alone are not the primary reason for your acceptance or denial from a school. Highly selective colleges have higher demands for standardized testing; much of their applicant pool has scores that are in range, but they are often unable to accept anywhere near half of the students who are qualified. For these colleges, having a score that is in range cannot get you in, but having one that is out of range can keep you out.

If you do not feel like your test scores are an accurate reflection of your aptitude and that they may hold you back in some way, you can find a list of 950+ colleges who are wither test-optional or test flexible at

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