What Is Happening in Standardized Testing and College Admissions Right Now?

Guest post by Katie Garrett of Garrett Educational Consulting

In the world of college admissions that the only thing that is predictable, is that it is unpredictable. Right now, as you know, that statement is especially true. The changes that are currently taking place are unprecedented – we, including the institutions of higher education, are in uncharted waters.

Over the past month, I have spent countless hours on Zoom calls with Directors of Admission, College Board, ACT, test prep experts, psychologists, and school heads in an attempt to remain up-to-date, but in full disclosure, the information is constantly changing. That being said, I will do my best to make sure the information I pass on is accurate and thorough.

Let’s start with some of the most common questions that I am hearing from my students and their families regarding testing.

My child is a current junior in the Class of 2021, what should they do about taking the SAT/ACT?

As many of you have likely heard, the College Board cancelled the June administration of the SAT. We thought that ACT would follow suit and cancel, but instead they stated that not only will they be offering the June and July administration, they will also be adding an alternate date for those months. If I had to make an educated guess, I would say that the June ACT will be cancelled as well. There are just so many unknowns that will have to be answered in order for it to happen including shelter in place and large gathering restrictions, schools willingness to host the exam, securing proctors, etc. which could also impact the ability to administer the July ACT.

  • If your child is currently preparing for the ACT, I would suggest registering for the July test date.
  • If they are currently preparing for the SAT, I would suggest registering for the August date when registration opens in May.

Both the College Board and ACT have stated that they will be offering additional test administrations throughout the Fall and both have stated that they are working on an at home test option should the social distancing restrictions still be in place. The most important piece to keep in mind is that standardized tests are just one piece of your child’s unique application puzzle. Don’t lose sight of all of their accomplishments!

My child is a current sophomore in the Class of 2022, do you think they will need to take the SAT/ACT?

The Class of 2022 has some options in regards to test prep and test planning. Most sophomores would not typically start test prep in the spring of their sophomore year because their schedule is already filled to the brim with school work, sports, work, extracurriculars, studying for exams and just being a teenager. However, right now, they currently seem to have a little more time on their hands. Because of this some sophomores are choosing to take advantage of the time and starting on test prep with the hope of taking their first official exam in August or September. Other students have opted to wait and begin test prep later this summer or early Fall and plan to take their first official test in the late Fall or early winter. There are also some students who have decided to take a wait and see approach. to see what the colleges decide to do on whether they will or will not use testing in their admissions decisions.

Regardless of the path your child decides to take, I would not suggest disregarding the tests all together just yet.

Many colleges have stated that they will be “test optional” for the Class of 2021 and some have even extended that for the Class of 2022 and 2023. What does “test optional” really mean?

Test optional is very different from test blind. When a college is test blind, they do not consider any of the applicants’ test scores in their admission decisions. When a college is test optional, if you submit test scores, they become part of your application file and are considered in your admission decision. If you do not submit test scores, you will not be penalized, but they will weigh the other aspects of your application more heavily.

During the first week of April, over thirty colleges stated that they would be test optional for the Class of 2021 and some have decided to do it for the Classes of 2022 and 2023. Since that time, that number has increased and that trend will likely continue as we see test dates being cancelled. The test optional route is not new to the college admissions arena – there are currently over 1,000 colleges that are, and have been, test optional for some time.

If you are interested in seeing the current list of colleges that are test optional for the Class of 2021 (and beyond), it can be found here: www.fairtest.org

Keep in mind that some colleges award merit money based on grade point average and test scores, and that could still hold true even as more colleges adopt a test optional policy.

Link through here for an in-depth article exploring the current status of Test Optional Admissions.

Garrett Educational Consulting, LLC is a full-service, academic consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. With over twenty years experience in education and counseling, Katie Garrett guides and supports students and families that are navigating important academic decisions. Services include all aspects of academic advising, comprehensive college planning, independent day school consulting, and boarding school application guidance. 

Garrett Educational Consulting


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