We can be honest about it: no one shows up to standardized testing absolutely THRILLED to spend four hours with a number two pencil and a scantron. The testing environment can be stressful, exhausting, and difficult. Sometimes, it can feel like the SAT and ACT aren’t the most accurate representation of your academic performance. On top of that, dozens of schools have adopted a test-optional policy.
So what’s the point? Are these theater schools really looking at your test scores? How important are they to your college audition package?
The answer has two parts.
First of all, test scores are still a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to scholarship consideration (even if a school is test optional). Merit-based scholarships will look at many aspects of your academic performance, and standardized test scores are definitely a part of that. If you’ll be shooting for the stars when it comes to merit-based aid, you will need competitive SAT or ACT scores to prove your academic rigor.
(note: at no point does the FAFSA require you to report grades or test scores. This point relates only to merit-based scholarships within the school and through third parties.)
Test scores are still a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to scholarship consideration.
The second point is not as cut and dry. Like GPA, extracurriculars, and essays, test scores are another data point in your application package that tells admissions counselors about you as a student. It’s another chance to show your academic excellence through a different lens. Even if a school is test-optional, reporting competitive test scores can set you apart from students who don’t report them at all.
In my opinion, good scores can only help you, and are worth reporting. At the same time, you don’t have to feel pressured to report scores if they’re not up to your usual standards or fall below the ‘accepted’ range at a school.
Even if a school is test-optional, reporting competitive test scores can set you apart from students who don’t report them at all.
So, like so much in this process, the decision about whether or not to take standardized tests comes down to who you are as a unique student. If you’re a strong student that tests well, use your scores to show these schools just how much you excel. If you don’t test well and you think the scores would actively hinder you in the process, maybe the tests aren’t for you! If you’re somewhere in the middle, or just want an expert opinion to weigh in, schedule a consult with me. We’ll talk through who you are as a student, what you want to present to admissions, and figure out the plan of attack that will work best for you. These days, there is no ‘right’ or ‘expected’ way when it comes to testing, so you have the power to decide if this becomes part of your application package or not.
If you’re a strong student that tests well, use your scores to show these schools just how much you excel.
About the Author
Lea Sevola is an actor/singer/dancer from Randolph, NJ. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ithaca College with a BFA in Musical Theatre, and she is a proud MTCA alumna! In New York City she has worked alongside Broadway’s Mauricio Martinez in the workshop of Jaime Lozano’s new musical, Present Perfect. She is also a member of the USO Show Troupe, traveling nationwide singing for Veterans and active military at military bases, professional sporting events, and patriotic events. Lea’s acting career has taken her across the country to various regional theatres, and she has traveled to four Middle Eastern countries playing Wonder Woman in a touring Justice League show. In addition to her performing career, Lea prides herself on being a dedicated academic. While at Ithaca she achieved Dean’s List for 8 semesters and earned the Dean’s Award for graduating at the top of all Fine and Performing Arts students. She also graduated with Departmental Honors and Departmental Distinction. Lea tutors middle and high schoolers in English and writing as well as in SAT/ACT preparation. Her own standardized test scores were in the 98th percentile, and since then she has studied these tests deeply to create strategies to help improve all her students’ scores!