Test Optional: Thanks Covid!
College apps start on 8/1/21 and SAT/ACT are not going to be required!
You heard me right! Colleges have now officially announced that yet again, they will determine who gets accepted into their programs without either the SAT or ACT. That means that you can apply anywhere this year and actually have a change of getting in. It also means that you can skip the weekends at the Test Prep Center, forget about the anxiety of sitting through a 3hr 45min monster exam at 8am on a Saturday morning, and you can finally be judged on what really matters, your resume!
"This year your college essays and your overall high school record are going to be your ticket to a top college. That means your resume of community services, awards, and leadership will be more critical than ever!"
That being said, most college said the exact same thing last year and they were right, but they failed to mention one little thing. They are still reserving top scholarships for students who turn in an SAT or ACT in the top 10% range. So what does this mean for this year's college planning? Here's the bottom line.
If you are a strong tester
Then follow my overall testing schedule.
Take 1st SAT and 1st ACT in spring of 11th
Have them compared
Then retake just the best one
If your score is high enough to get in to the college of your choice, then submit it so you will also have a good chance at merit scholarships.
If your score is not high enough to get in, then don't submit it. Now you have a chance of getting in even if you don't have much chance at merit dollars. (You can still get other scholarship!)
Test Optional vs Test Blind - There is a lot of chatter about whether or not colleges are truly not considering tests scores. Do they actually want an SAT but just saying hey we won't judge you on it? Are they just saying they are test optional but really they are looking at the tests you take? Here are LeeWay, we did over 1000 apps last year to top colleges. I can easily say that 80% did not submit a test (and most of those had taken a test or two). We had nearly a 100% acceptance rate (as usual), so I tend to believe that when colleges say they are test optional, they are test optional.
Extended Read: "College Apps: It's a COVID year!" written by Abigail ( Full article)
This year, prospective college students will be forced to navigate both in-person and online classes, build resumes without guaranteed access to standardized testing or extracurriculars and craft admissions essays that capture who they are and the circumstances they come from.
With the coronavirus pandemic impacting essentially every community in the country, The Common Application, which is accepted by more than 900 U.S. schools and is used by over 1 million students each year, added a new section. “We added a space on the application where students can talk about both the personal and educational impact that Covid-19 has had on them,” says Jenny Rickard, Common App CEO. Rickard says some students have lost family members, some have had their family financial situations change and many are dealing with exhausting — and distracting — emotional trauma. Additionally, Rickard stresses that students should use this space to explain how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted them and their ability to study.
“Focus on the areas that have had the greatest impact, that have had the greatest significance, that have really changed their approach to their education or impacted their ability to take their classes, or that impacted their outlook on going to college,” she explains. “It’s only 250 words. We don’t want students to dwell or stress out about this question, but to see it as an opportunity to share information that they think would be important for understanding their application given that these are particular circumstances that the student has been dealing with.”
Rickard adds that the coronavirus pandemic has left its mark on the college admissions process beyond just the Common App. Her organization estimates that before the pandemic, 56% of schools that accept the Common Application always required students to submit standardized test scores. Now, that share is just 27%. While some have made doomsday predictions about how the pandemic has predicted the end of traditional higher education, Rickard says her internal data suggests just the opposite. She says that 21% more students created applications with the Common Application between August 1st and August 3rd this year compared to other years.