Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

Admit It! No one likes standardized testing. None of you wake up on a Saturday morning and think to yourself, what I’d really love to do today is spend hours locked in a room, filling in bubbles on an answer sheet, taking a test that plays a part in determining my future. We understand; all of us took an SAT or an ACT (or both). None of us count it among our happiest memories. But as admission officers, we do recognize the greater purpose in standardized testing. While certainly not without its pitfalls, standardized testing does help us gather information upon which to make some very important decisions.bubblesheet

A number of people asked us to provide more insight into how we utilize the SAT and ACT in our process (great suggestion @Sarah and @Tiffany). We view standardized testing as one component of your application; no more than that, and no less than that. Your four year record in high school is more important to us than your four hour record on a Saturday morning. But, like any other component of the application (transcript, extracurricular activities, recommendations, essays, etc.), standardized test results can make your application more or less competitive than others. The bullet points below provide more detail into exactly what we require and how we make use of standardized testing in our process.

Required Testing
  • An SAT or an ACT
    • We have no preference for one exam over the other
    • For the SAT: we will review your best Critical Reading and your best Math score even if they come from different test dates and the middle 50% of our students score between 1270-1460
    • For the ACT: we will review your best composite score; we do not review the individual subscores, and the middle 50% of our students score between 28-32
    • We do not require you to take the writing component of the ACT
  • TOEFL: required for international transfer applicants, and we like to see a score of 100 or higher on the internet-based exam
Optional Testing
  • SAT Subject Tests
    • If you do submit them, we will review them
    • SAT Subject tests (specifically in math and lab science) are highly recommended for homeschool students
  • AP Exam Scores
    • If you do submit them, we will review them
  • TOEFL: Highly recommended for international freshman applicants for whom English is not your first language
Submission of Standardized Tests
  • Your SAT and ACT results need to be submitted to W&M directly from the testing agency
  • If you choose to submit a TOEFL result, that should also be submitted to us directly from the testing agency
  • SAT Subject Tests and AP exam scores can be either submitted directly from the College Board with your other results or can be self-reported through the Common Application

Our best advice, try each exam once during your junior year. Then, take whichever exam you did better on a second time. Generally, about one-third of students do better on the SAT while another third do better on the ACT (the final third do equally well on both exams). Trying each exam allows you to see if one is more suited to your abilities than the other. Starting early gives you the time to retake an exam should your first attempt not go as well as you had hoped. And most importantly, don’t overthink it. This is not the test that determines the rest of your life. It’s one small part of a much larger process.

Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission

Categories: Admission, Faculty & Staff Blogs Tags: , ,
  1. Colton
    • Admit It!
      • Colton
        • Admit It!
  2. e
    • Admit It!
  3. Tiffany
  4. RJ
    • Admit It!
  5. Sandy
    • Admit It!
      • Scott
        • Admit It!

Comments are closed on posts older than one year, but we still want to hear from you. If you have a comment or question for us, please email admission@wm.edu.