Test Optional FAQs

Why did The College of Idaho decide to become standardized test-optional in the admission process?

Research released in February 2014 (Hiss and Franks, click here to read online), the upcoming revisions of the SAT and ACT, and The College of Idaho’s holistic admission practices prompted this change beginning for those who file applications for matriculation in 2015/16. 

The admission committee at The College of Idaho has always prided itself on providing holistic application review. While the high school transcript will continue to be the most important part of the evaluation of an application, we strongly believe that by allowing you to decide how to best present your academic potential, The College is also giving you the opportunity to take the first steps in taking ownership of your college education. The College of Idaho is looking for intelligent students who are self-directed, passionate about the possibilities that higher education offers, and who want to make a difference in their communities and in the world. The test-optional alternative allows us to consider strengths that may be demonstrated in areas other than your ACT or SAT scores.

How will The College of Idaho admission team evaluate students who do not submit test scores?

Because the College has always considered applicants from a holistic point of view, the review process for students who submit ACT or SAT scores and for students who do not submit scores is very similar. The factors that go into an admission decision at C of I include your overall high school academic record, recommendations, co-curricular activities, community involvement, writing ability, and other achievements. If your high school offers advanced placement (AP), honors courses or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, your involvement in this type of rigorous high school curriculum will reflect positively on your application, and scholarship decision. We will carefully review the strength of your high school classes and your performance in them, in the context of what your high school offers. Additionally, if you choose to apply test-optional, you will be asked to respond to several short essay questions.

When do I have to choose whether I want my application evaluated as test-optional?

When you submit your application to The College of Idaho (using either the Common Application or The College of Idaho application), please indicate if you would like to be considered test-optional. Once we receive your application with your intent to be considered test-optional or not, students who do not want their test scores to be considered will be sent a link to the short answer questions that are required to complete your test-optional application. We strongly recommend that you carefully consider your decision to apply with or without test scores. *Once you have notified the College of your choice, you will be unable to change to the other option.

Given that some students will have already submitted an application when learning of the new policy, they will be able to change an existing application to test-optional by contacting the Vice President for Enrollment Management, Lorna J Hunter, via email at [email protected].

How will the short answer questions be evaluated?

The committee will be looking for clear, concise, and focused writing that demonstrates thoughtful reflection. The short answer questions provide you with the opportunity to tell the story you wish your test scores could tell. You will be able to share with us your perspective on your academic strengths, educational goals, and the impact you believe you can make on The College of Idaho community and beyond.

What if my scores are included on my transcripts or are sent by the College Board/ACT?

If you have indicated that you would like to apply test-optional, your scores will not be considered as part of the application review.

How does being considered test-optional affect merit scholarship consideration?

All applicants to The College of Idaho are considered for merit scholarships at the time of the review of their application.  This is true for all students regardless of submitting standardized tests. Evaluation for merit is based on all elements of a student’s application, as well as the competitive nature of the applicant pool.

If I do not submit test scores, can I be considered for the Gipson Fellows Program?

Yes.  Depending on the strength of your curriculum relative to the academic programs in your high school, the score on your essay questions, and overall quality of your academic work, your application will be considered for an invitation to the Gipson Fellows program. As with all applicants, no additional application is required. 

How will the test-optional policy affect my athletic status?

The NAIA mandates the submission of standardized test scores for athletic eligibility; therefore, The College of Idaho will require that prospective student athletes submit ACT or SAT scores with their application. Athletic recruits can request that submitted scores not be used in their evaluation for admission to the College.

Can international students be considered test-optional?

As an international student you have the same opportunity to apply without submitting SAT or Act scores. You must, however, submit the TOEFL/IELTS, if your first language is not English, or if it is otherwise requested by the College.

Does this policy apply to transfer students?

Students who are transferring to the College can apply within the test-optional guidelines. If you choose not to submit your SAT/ACT scores and have completed more than 28 college credits, you do not need to answer the additional questions to complete the application.  Students with fewer than 28 completed college credits can choose to apply as test-optional but must answer the additional essay questions.

How do I know if applying test-optional is right for me?

The decision to apply test-optional is a personal and individual decision. If you are satisfied with your test scores and believe they are indicative of your academic potential, then feel free to submit them with your other credentials. If you have a strong academic record, but do not feel your test results are a good indicator of your academic potential, (or for any other reason), you can choose not to submit them, and instead, submit answers to the essay questions. Every applicant presents a unique combination of credentials. Your grades, curriculum strength, test scores, recommendations, out-of-class experiences, and personal character and integrity combined are considered by the admission committee. Generally speaking, weakness in one area can be compensated for by strength in another.     The admission committee provides a comprehensive and holistic review of each application, meaning that there is no one element that guarantees admission. Feel free to contact your admission counselor if you would like to have a personal conversation about testing.

The College of Idaho will be carefully observing this decision over the next four years. For this reason and because standardized test may be used as a foundation for class placement, all entering students will be asked to submit their scores.