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2 months ago
Admissions Advice

international student taking ACT
Answered

hey! i know the ACT and SAT are no longer required at most schools, but I'm still worried that my application will be weaker without one of them. Would my being an international student make the ACT less important to a college admissions officer, because its optional and not really a thing where I'm from? Or would you still recommend I take it? My grades are pretty good by my own country's standards, but we don't have standardized tests and my school doesn't offer AP or IB, so I feel like I'm lacking in those areas as well. Essentially, is the ACT less important for admissions chances for international students, and would it hurt my chances if I don't take it?

ACT
ACT-prep
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@Jane_f2 months ago

I take my sat in russia this october. however, Im not sure if I get a good score or not. In case I get 1350+ I will submit it, otherwise I will go test-optional.

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4 answers

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Accepted Answer
2 months ago

It would depend on where you are applying to. If your ECs are good, you have a good GPA, the colleges you are applying to generally have mid-high acceptance rates, and are test-optional, I would say it is fine not to take it.

I think you are right that not having AP/IB courses takes away a bit from your app. I think since, or unless, it doesn't hurt you to take it, you should. It wouldn't necessarily hurt your chances to not take it, but it wouldn't help them either. The opposite is true if you do take it. If you take it, it could do nothing to your app, but it could also help it.

So in conclusion, it depends on a few things, but you'd be better off if you got it over with. Good luck! You got this!

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2 months ago

I am also an international student with almost the exact same scenario as you, except I took the SAT and I take one of two APs offered at my school. i was hoping to get a score that was higher than the one I received and I don’t know if I will be able to take it again as I will be writing finals soon. I will most likely apply test-optional unless I am able to retake it and do better on it. Hope that helps!

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2 months ago[edited]

The simple answer is yes, it weakens your application if you apply without a test score whether you are an American or not. While some would argue that if a college communicates that it is truly holistic in its review of applications, then it wouldn't matter. However, what we have learned from the last admissions cycle is that admits at the better colleges faired better if they submitted test scores. As you move down to 2nd and 3rd and 4th tier schools it matters less.

My analogy is to imagine all future Le Cordon Bleu cooking school cohorts are told the criteria for admission is how well you bake a cake. They prescribe that 10 ingredients can be used, flour, water, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, eggs, butter, oil, cocoa, milk but tell all the bakers that if you don't have butter, you can submit your cake without butter at no penalty. Your cake will be judged on the merits of what you've done with the ingredients you had access to.

So unless you know how to make a fantastic cake without butter, you are indeed at a disadvantage from those who will rely on butter as a key ingredient in their recipe. It is indeed possible that some of the best-submitted cakes will not incorporate butter, but since the audience are admissions officers who have been sampling cake for 10,20, or 30 years with butter, they might have an involuntary bias for cakes with butter.

College admissions are a bit of a gamble, and college admissions without the same bits and pieces that other people submit are a bigger gamble. So if you submit a college application that is missing test scores, APs, IBs, and missing is evidence that you challenged yourself outside of school (independent research, internships, college courses, online workshops, etc), then you are going to be judged on fewer and fewer data points.

If you are Malala Yousafzai, and apply to Stanford or Yale, I'm pretty sure they'll let you in without test scores, or a 4.0 GPA. As a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, you carry more clout than all the criteria everyone else has to adhere to. But if you are simply a hard-working smart good person, well you have to play musical chairs with 50,000 applicants and hope you have prepared enough to sit down in a seat after multiple rounds of evaluation.

My advice is simple. If you can figure out how to study and take either the ACT or SAT, definitely do so. Getting a high test score requires a time and effort commitment. I don't know what grade you are in so if I can seek other alternatives to boost your coursework rigor if APs and IBs are not taught at your school.

Over the next 2 cycles, I expect there to be a lot of International applicants, especially those applying to T50 schools.

Good luck

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2 months ago[edited]

I went to some college tours and those colleges said they are continuing to be test-optional. They said that if you do not submit your SAT or ACT score, it's not going to harm you because then they are just going to observe other parts of your application more deeply like your personal essay, extra-curricular activities, and GPA. For your question on "Would you still recommend I take it?" I would say yes because there's literally nothing to lose. If you don't like your score, then you can always go test-optional. You don't know until you try!

Also, colleges will get informed that your school doesn't have AP or IB classes, so it's not going to harm you, because it's not in your control. If your school offered like 25 AP and IB classes and you only took like 1 of them, then that's not going to be in your favor because colleges will notice you didn't take the chance to challenge yourself. However, this is not the case for you and your school. Therefore, you don't have to worry about it at all.

Hope this helps!

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