Test-Free Policy FAQ

Why is Dickinson going test free?  

A: 2020 was a truly unprecedented year and the pandemic continues to impact students' lives. We are attempting to protect prospective students’ safety by eliminating standardized testing from admission and scholarship consideration so that there is no question as to our stance on the need for standardized testing. It is important to note that, having been test optional since 1994, the admissions committee has long been comfortable making admissions decisions based upon the whole of a student's application and not reliant on standardized-test scores.

What is the difference between test optional, test free and test flexible?  

A: Test optional means that the applicant has the option of submitting standardized test scores for consideration with their application for admission. Test free means that scores will not be reviewed for any candidate for admission. The goal of a test-free policy is to remove the pressure on students to provide a score if some others are doing so. Test flexible refers to adjustments where testing would otherwise be required, particularly in locations where testing opportunities are limited. 

If you're not considering test scores, what are you looking at more?  

A: We became test optional in 1994 after extensive research into our students’ standardized test scores and performance both in high school and at Dickinson. Our research pointed overwhelmingly to the work that our students did in high school as predictive of their performance at Dickinson, and that standardized test scores were far less predictive. Annual research from the College Board indicates the same: high-school performance is the single greatest indicator of a student’s performance in college. So, just as when we were test optional, we will focus our holistic review on applicants’ high school record (the strength of curriculum and performance), the recommendations of their school counselors and teacher, and on the materials that students prepare (application and essay). And we invite students to connect with us—whether through virtual meetings or interviews—so that we have a full and complete sense of their talents, achievements, goals and aspirations. 

Do I need to submit something in addition to my application? 

A: Nothing additional is required in place of standardized-test scores to complete your application to Dickinson. Your regional counselor will be your advocate in the admissions process so, while not required, connecting for a meeting or interview can be a great way to supplement the materials submitted as part of your application.  

Is this just a trial period?  

A: We have committed to a test-free policy for three years, through the fall 2023 admissions cycle. At that time, we will assess the policy with various all-college committees to determine whether it should be continued or if we will return to our previous test-optional policy.  

How long is this in effect for? 

A: Our test-free policy will be in effect through the fall 2023 admissions cycle. We will revisit the policy at that time to determine whether it will be maintained or if we will return to being test optional. 

Will I need to submit test scores for scholarship consideration? 

A: No. Scores will not be reviewed for either admission or scholarship consideration. 

What about my AP or IB test scores? 

A: While we will not be reviewing AP or IB scores in the admissions process, we will still award credit and placement based on scores following our current AP and IB credit policies.  

Do homeschoolers need to submit standardized test scores? 

A: Homeschoolers, like all applicants, will not need to submit standardized test scores. 

Does this apply to international students? 

A: International students, like all applicants, need not submit a SAT or ACT score. We do ask, however, that those who are not studying in an English-language based school submit English-language proficiency test scores. 

What if I really want Dickinson to see my scores? 

A: You always have the opportunity to highlight any information in your meetings with your regional counselor or in an interview

Are test scores required for athletics? 

A: Test scores are not required of athletes. 

Are there many other schools that are test blind?

A: Only a few are. While many colleges have migrated to a test-optional policy, Dickinson is among the first few liberal-arts colleges to announce a test-free policy. We are making this policy change recognizing how vital this is to ensuring equity in this moment in history.