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Strategic Disclosure of Test Scores: Evidence from US College Admissions

The impact of test-optional college admissions policies depends on whether applicants act strategically in disclosing test scores. We analyze individual applicants’ standardized test scores and disclosure behavior to 50 major US colleges for entry in fall 2021, when Covid-19 prompted widespread adoption of test-optional policies. Applicants withheld low scores and disclosed high scores, including seeking admissions advantages by conditioning their disclosure choices on their other academic characteristics, colleges’ selectivity and testing policy statements, and the Covid-related test access challenges of the applicants’ local peers. We find only modest differences in test disclosure strategies by applicants’ race and socioeconomic characteristics.

College Admissions, Test Optional
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

McManus, Brian, Jessica Howell, and Michael Hurwitz. (). Strategic Disclosure of Test Scores: Evidence from US College Admissions. (EdWorkingPaper: 23-843). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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