An Update on Standardized Testing
As COVID-19 has impacted school and work, its impact can be felt in many aspects of the college admission process, especially in the administration of the SAT and ACT. Many testing centers were forced to cancel tests over the spring and summer, leaving students, especially seniors, in a difficult position. Many students have questions about whether to take or retake standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT and SAT Subject tests. We at Marks Education believe that students and parents should always prioritize the health and safety of their families in making this difficult decision. Seniors should note that there is a box on the Common App that asks students to describe COVID-19 related issues that may have affected their application or testing profile. If you are unable to take (or retake) a test, please indicate that along with the reasons. Colleges will understand. Seniors should also remember that colleges are much more likely this year to ask for seniors’ first quarter or trimester grades, so they should focus on being as prepared as possible for the challenging academic classes to come. If online learning was challenging in the spring, you may benefit from some catching up. We tutor for all high school academic subjects and would be happy to help.
For those students who would like to take a test this fall, both the College Board (maker of the SAT) and the ACT have been working with schools and other organizations to offer additional test dates in the fall and to add new locations for testing. However, as national test dates approach this fall, many students may receive emails telling them that their test center has closed or that they must take the test in another location sometimes far from their home address. As COVID-19 affects different parts of the country at different levels of intensity, some test centers will remain open while others are forced to close. Given that uncertainty, some high schools are moving to administer the SAT and/or ACT only to their own students.
When should students submit SAT or ACT scores to test optional schools?
Before sending test scores to any schools, have a conversation with your college counselor. Are your scores in or above the middle 50% of test scores for the schools on your list? Will your scores support or enhance your application? If the answers to those questions are yes, it may be to your advantage to submit your scores.
What should the Class of 2022 do?
While many colleges have adopted a test optional plan for the class of 2021, the majority of them have implemented a one-year policy change. Some schools will re-evaluate their policies in May or June of 2021 and make a decision about whether to remain test optional or return to requiring SAT or ACT scores. Students in the class of 2022 will need to be prepared to apply to colleges requiring standardized test scores. Nevertheless, they may not be able to sign up for test dates until November or December when rising seniors are done with their testing.
Testing will continue to play a role in the college admissions process. Strong scores can differentiate a student from other applicants and provide a college or university with one more reason to accept the student. However, a strong SAT or ACT score will not replace a low GPA. Moreover, college admissions officers are reasonable people who understand the difficulties many students are having during this pandemic. If students are not able to take a test out of health concerns or because a test is simply not available in their area, colleges will understand their predicament and will look at the rest of their application without penalizing them for not having a test score.