If you are a Junior, or have a student that is a Junior, it could be even trickier on deciding whether to take the ACT and SAT (assuming testing is available) and whether to submit those test scores to colleges.
What did testing look like in 2021?
In 2021 many colleges and universities adopted flexible testing policies due to the pandemic. While this decision seemed fair due to students not being able to test, it also presented a new set of challenges for students. In the past, students understood that most colleges required either a SAT or ACT test score and there was no negotiating this requirement. Now the decision for submission of test scores has been left to the applicant and it is hard to know
what, if any, if there is any advantage.
The Compass Education Group provides a free downloadable Guide to Admission Testing. It is an excellent guide and covers such topics as the current testing landscape, test-optional developments, PSAT and PreACT, Score Choice and superscoring and much more. According to their guide fewer testing opportunities meant fewer submitted scores.
Pre-pandemic testing policy breakdown for the 400+ schools Compass tracks:
Current testing policy breakdown for the 400+ schools Compass tracks:
What will testing look like for the Class of 2022?
While colleges assumed that students were not submitting test scores during the pandemic because they were unable to test, that may not necessarily be the case for the class of 2022.
As testing opportunities begin to get back to normal, the ability for students to take the ACT or SAT will increase and it may be safe to assume that many colleges will expect and probably receive test scores from students. As the Compass Group notes " We have not seen a reduced interest in testing by students planning to apply to competitive colleges. Instead of focusing on what they can forgo, these students are considering what others with similar opportunities are apt to present as strengths. Like all discretionary qualities volunteered in an application, scores may remain a valuable piece of the holistic review process at many schools, especially those where demand for admission drastically outstrips supply."
However, students who do not have access to testing or are not comfortable testing will still have a lot of opportunities to withhold their test scores as many schools have decided to keep their flexible testing policies. Even some highly selective schools have decided to maintain those policies for the class of 2022 and possibly beyond. Some of those schools are Amherst, Boston College, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, UPenn, Rice, UVA, and Williams. There may be other schools that follow suit and will announce in the Spring that they have decided to continue their flexible testing policies.
According to the Compass Group it will be important to pay attention to the wording in schools policies in order to get a sense of what their policies may be going forward.
"Statements recently released by a number of popular schools like the ones listed above contain notably consistent themes, such as:
The decision to continue suspending the testing requirement is due to the pandemic.
The suspension is — for now — temporary.
Those who are able to attain ACT/SAT scores are welcome to submit them.
Those who have test scores from other standardized exams are welcome to submit them.
This policy has contributed to a significant increase in applications. "
As always, in working with students, I advise students to come up with a good testing plan that meets their particular needs.
Determine which test (ACT or SAT) that meets their strengths by taking one of each. Typically a student will be able to determine which tests meets their strengths the best.
As a student builds their college list, pay attention to their testing policies and what that college requires.
Pay attention to the opening up of testing dates (as we move out of the pandemic those dates should increase)
Plan prep, if necessary, in order to maximize your best score
Most students will take their determined test 2-3 times (taking the test more than is not recommended)
The recent elimination of SAT Subject tests could allow students more time to focus on the
ACT and SAT.