How Do Colleges Compare Applicants Who Submit Test Scores With Those Who Don’t?

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How do test-optional schools compare two students with very similar holistic review criteria, but one student has an SAT/ACT score and one doesn't? Would a 33 ACT put the one student ahead of the non-tested student, even though we don't know what that student could have scored? Or would a 29 ACT taken early junior year actually rank that student below the non-tested student? Or does an early ACT show the student's motivation, preparedness and forethought, thus becoming an advantage?

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