Test-Optional FAQs 

Western New England University has adopted a test-optional alternative for freshman admission. Students applying for freshman admission can choose whether or not to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the application. Students who do not submit test scores will be required to submit an additional essay. Those students interested in Engineering, Pre-pharmacy, Pre-physician Assistant or Pre-optometry will be required to submit test scores as part of their application.

1. Why does Western New England University make submitting standardized test scores optional?

Western New England University evaluates each applicant holistically when reviewing candidates for admissions. Adopting a test-optional alternative allows us to consider your strengths that may be demonstrated in areas other than through an ACT or SAT score. Both our internal and external research show that your high school record, in particular your grades in challenging core subjects, is the most important academic component that predicts a student’s likelihood to succeed in a rigorous college academic curriculum.

2. How do I know if I should apply test-optional?

If you are satisfied with your test scores and believe they are indicative of your academic achievement, then we are happy to consider them as part of your application. If you have a strong academic record, but do not feel your test results are a good reflection of your academic performance, you can choose not to submit them. Those students who decide to not submit test scores will be required to submit an additional essay response where they can demonstrate their ability as a student and discuss why standardized test scores do not reflect those abilities. Applicants to our Engineering, Pre-pharmacy, Pre-physician Assistant, and Pre-optometry programs are required to submit test scores as part of their application.

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider your decision to apply with or without test scores. You will be asked to indicate whether or not you are applying test-optional on the Western New England University Electronic Undergraduate Application, or if you are applying using the Common Application, on the Western New England University Member Screen. Once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to change your decision at a later time. 

You must choose to apply either as test-optional or with your test scores. Students applying to Western New England University cannot submit more than one application. If a student submits more than one application, we will only recognize the first application received, and the admission decision will be based on that application alone.

3. What if my scores are sent from a testing agency or included on my transcripts?

If your scores are sent to us from the testing agency or are included on your high school transcript, you can still apply test-optional as long as you indicate your decision on the application. If you apply test-optional, your test scores will not be taken into consideration as part of the application review process. 

4. How will Western New England University evaluate students who do not submit test scores?

Because Western New England University has always reviewed applications holistically, the review process for students who submit ACT or SAT scores and students who do not submit scores will be very similar. When considering an applicant for admission, we will closely evaluate your overall academic record, including grades earned in academic coursework, performance in honors, International Baccalaureate, Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement courses, and grades throughout your high school career. In addition, other factors will include letter(s) of recommendation, test-optional essay response, co-curricular activities, community involvement, academic trends and other noteworthy achievements that you choose to make the admissions committee aware of. 

Generally, students who stand out to the members of our admissions committee will have taken four years in each of the core areas (English, math, natural science and social science/history). If your high school offers Advanced Placement (AP), honors courses, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, or Dual Enrollment course, your involvement in this type of rigorous high school curriculum will reflect positively on your application. We will carefully review the strength of your high school classes and your performance in them, which will also include any upward or downward trends over the course of your four years of secondary school studies. 

If you apply test-optional, you will be required to submit a short essay about your abilities and how the test scores do not reflect those abilities. This particular essay question for students applying test-optional will not replace the current essay required of all applicants. In addition, applicants applying test-optional will be reviewed separately from applicants applying with SAT or ACT scores. 

5. How do I access the essay question?

Test-optional applicants are strongly encouraged to use the Common Application which will allow direct access to the required essay question. Once you indicate that you are applying test-optional on the Western New England University Member Screen of the Common Application, you will gain access to the essay question. This question is intended to be concise, in your own voice, and does not require prior preparation. 

6. How do I know if my academic record is strong enough to apply test-optional?

Because we evaluate each application holistically and individually, there is no formula we can provide to help you decide. If a student feels that their test scores accurately reflect their academic achievements and the ability to be successful at Western New England University, the student may wish to submit their scores. However, if a student does not feel their scores are indicative of their academic ability and potential, a student may not wish to submit their test scores. If a student is unsure whether they should submit their test scores, we recommend visiting the campus and sitting with an Admissions Counselor where we can discuss the test-optional procedure and guide you in the right direction. To schedule a campus visit and/or an appointment with an admissions counselor, please click here.

Of course, every applicant presents a different combination of test scores, curriculum choices, grade point average, recommendations, out-of-class experiences, and personal traits. In general, weakness in one area can be compensated for by strength in another.

7. How will my answers to the essay question be evaluated?

We look for clear, concise, and focused writing that represents you in an authentic manner. We want your essay to provide us with information about your strengths that we would not otherwise garner from your application. The essay provides you with the opportunity to share some insight into your educational motivation, short- and long-term goals, leadership experience, and community involvement.

8. Are there any students who cannot apply test-optional?

Yes, there are two groups of students who cannot apply test-optional: 

   1. Students who are applying to the College of Engineering, Pre-pharmacy, Pre-physician Assistant, or Pre-optometry. Due to the demand of these programs, test scores are taken in consideration as criteria for admission.

   2. International students looking for full admission are required to submit standardized test scores to prove English proficiency and should consult International Admission for more information. 

9. Will I still be eligible for merit scholarships if I apply test-optional?

Yes. All applicants who decide to apply test-optional will still be taken in consideration for merit scholarships. If a student feels their test scores reflect their academic ability, they can choose to submit standardized test scores and will be evaluated under different merit scholarship parameters. Students who achieve very high standardized test scores are encourage to submit them, as there may be academic merit award incentive for those that score in the top range of our overall applicant pool. 

10. Will I still be eligible for the University Honors Program if I apply test-optional?

Yes, you will still be eligible for the Honors Program; however, test scores may be required after a decision is made in order to determine eligibility for the Honors Program. 

The Honors Program at Western New England University is a great opportunity for highly motivated students. After a student is admitted to Western New England University, a separate application process is required for the Honors Program, which may include additional essay questions. Applicant responses to these questions are carefully considered. Find out more about the Honors Program.

11. If I enroll at Western New England University, will I need to submit my ACT or SAT scores?

No, but if you took the ACT or SAT, we ask that you submit your test scores after you enroll. The scores will be used to study the success of the test-optional pilot program and will not be used for any other purposes. You may print out a score report from College Board or the ACT website and submit them to the Admissions Office.

12. Will I be at a disadvantage if I decide not to submit standardized test scores?

No. There is no negative impact on your application for admission or eligibility for academic scholarships should you decide not to submit test scores and indicate that choice on the Western New England University Electronic Application or the Member Section of the Common Application.

13. If I apply for a program that requires test scores and later wish to change my program of interest that allows me to apply test-optional, can I make that change during the admissions process? Or if a student applies test-optional and wishes to change to a major where test scores are required?

No. If a student applies for a program that requires standardized test scores and during the admission process and then they wish to change to a program where students have the option to apply test-optional, the student’s test scores will be factored into their admissions decision. 

If a student applies test-optional and during the process wishes to change their program of interest to a major where test scores are required, then the student will be expected to submit test scores in order to be evaluated for admission in regards to their new program of interest.

14. How do I know if I should apply test-optional as a transfer student?

Students looking to transfer into Western New England University and are applying with less than 12 earned college credits after high school graduation will have the option to submit test scores.  Students who have an interest in the College of Engineering and have completed less than 12 earned college credits will be required to submit test scores.  If you are satisfied with your test scores and believe they are indicative of your academic achievement, then we are happy to consider them as part of your application. If you have a strong academic record, but do not feel your test results are a good reflection of your academic performance, you can choose not to submit them. Those students who decide to not submit test scores will be required to submit an additional essay response where they can demonstrate their ability as a student and discuss why standardized test scores do not reflect those abilities. All transfer student who have completed 12 or more earned college credits after high school graduation will not be required to submit test scores for admissions.

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider your decision to apply with or without test scores. You will be asked to indicate whether or not you are applying test-optional on the Western New England University Electronic Undergraduate Application, or if you are applying using the Common Application, on the Western New England University Member Screen. Once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to change your decision at a later time. 

You must choose to apply either as test-optional or with your test scores. Students applying to Western New England University cannot submit more than one application. If a student submits more than one application, we will only recognize the first application received, and the admission decision will be based on that application alone.

If you should have any questions, please contact the Office of Admissions at 413-782-1321 or learn@wne.edu.

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