You may have heard last week that the University of California system – with 10 campuses enrolling over a quarter million students – announced it would be test-optional for Fall 2021 admission. The new policy phases in changes over the next four years ending with the university either creating a new admission test or eliminating the standardized test requirements for all students by 2025. Although many schools have announced test-optional policies for next year in the wake of Covid-19, the University of California announcement was likely the most significant and could represent a turning point for admission test requirements.
What does this mean for you as an applicant? Should you plan to take the SAT or the ACT? The answer still largely depends on the schools you are interested in. Although more and more schools are choosing test-optional admission policies, the majority still require either the SAT or ACT to be considered. FairTest promotes test-optional policies and maintains a list of schools that utilize test-optional admissions. This list can help you determine whether the colleges you are considering are test-optional. However, you may not want to rule out a college just because they require the SAT or ACT. In that case, it’s still best to register for one or both exams for the fall.
Planning Your College Entrance Tests
- Review the revised schedule for SAT or ACT test dates.
- Register early for your test.
- Allow yourself up to an hour to complete the registration online. There are lots of questions!
- Upload a picture for your ACT or SAT / SAT Subject Test Registration.
- Opt into the Student Search Service when registering for the SAT or PSAT, or the ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS) when registering for the ACT to receive emails or mailings from colleges.
View upcoming test dates and add the SAT or ACT to your test schedule. Prepare accordingly!
Questions? Let’s chat!
Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC.
People around the world are adapting to a new normal. Businesses are reinventing themselves, restaurants are offering delivery and takeout options, television news and late-night shows are broadcasting from home, and colleges and schools across the US have adopted online learning formats. Now that you may be settling in to a different routine, it’s time to refocus your efforts and adopt some new strategies regarding college admission.
Keep Your Grades Up
Many colleges have announced that they will waive the SAT/ACT requirements for Fall 2021 applications. Some are also discussing how to view junior year grades given the abrupt change to online learning and some schools adopting pass/fail grading. Although it’s impossible to predict how every college will review their applications, maintaining a high GPA is the best advice. Check in with your teachers, ask for help, focus on doing your best with what’s asked of you. Having consistently strong grades or even an upward trend can only benefit you in the application process.
Study for AP Exams
The CollegeBoard announced that both the May and June SAT dates have been canceled. This means you can stop thinking about the SAT for now. Instead, focus your efforts on studying for any AP exams you may have. AP exams will be given online meaning that you may want to prepare for the test a bit differently. CollegeBoard has a list of helpful tips in preparing for an online, open-book/open notes exam format. Acing your AP exams is another way to show colleges your academic chops and potentially earn college credit saving yourself money and time in the future.
Consider Virtual Volunteering or other Self-driven Extracurriculars
With most school extracurriculars canceled, it’s time to rethink your activity list. There are countless creative ways to demonstrate your skills or interests to a college. Jodi Glou, another independent college consultant, compiled a great list of virtual volunteering opportunities. Virtual volunteering is a great alternative to canceled summer plans and also an opportunity to use your skills to benefit organizations that may no longer have the in-person staff or funding to accomplish their mission.
Don’t stress! Andrew Palumbo, dean of admissions and financial aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass, wrote an open letter to high school juniors this week. While he admits that there is a lot to worry about right now, he says grades and SAT scores shouldn’t be on that list. His message to students: “We’ll figure it out together.”
Founder, Weil College Advising. LLC
The ripple effects of COVID-19 are just starting to make their impacts. It’s safe to say that the coronavirus has upended the college admission process for the coming year. You probably have a lot of questions and colleges are just starting to make adjustments to their admission process for next year. Here are some of the topics that students and colleges are grappling with:
I was going to take the May SAT but it is canceled.
CollegeBoard and ACT have been monitoring the pandemic in an attempt to provide students with options. Currently the June 6 SAT is still scheduled. ACT has tests scheduled for June 13 (rescheduled from April) and July 18. However, it’s true that you may only have one opportunity to take the test. As a result, many colleges have announced they are going to be test optional (at least for the 2020-2021 application year). FairTest has a list of test optional schools and schools that will be temporarily test optional.
All of my activities are canceled for spring – what should I put on my activity list?
Colleges understand – no sports, no spring performances, no student council or volunteer hours. Your activity list may look a bit different than what you had planned. Maybe it will include all the books you read while staying at home, a new language you taught yourself on Duolingo, or the tech support you offered your grandmother so you could all keep in touch. If necessity is the mother of invention, maybe boredom is the mother of creativity. Time to get creative.
We are doing online learning – they say our grades will be pass/fail.
Colleges are going to be making a lot of adjustments to the way they consider applications. Don’t panic about your grades not looking like they normally would. High schools across the country are doing their best in this unprecedented situation. Many colleges are doing the same for their own students – offering them the option to have pass/fail grades. They will be understanding of whatever your school decided for grading.
I think COVID-19 will make a great essay topic.
It’s possible that the pandemic has changed your school/life experience in dramatic ways. It would be natural to think this would make a perfect college essay. But don’t forget, many students are sharing this same experience. You want your college essay to stand out, attract attention, or be remembered by the admission staff. Consider whether your experience or perspective is unique. You don’t want to be just another coronavirus essay…
What about college visits?
Many juniors were planning college tours for spring break and those in person tours were likely canceled. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to get to know a college. Take an online tour, attend a virtual admission events, chat with student tour guides, follow a school on Instagram and comment on a post. Not only does this help you gather information, but colleges also track these online connections as part of “demonstrated interest.” Some colleges consider demonstrated interest in the admission process. Hopefully, in person visits will resume in the fall.
The best advice as always is to stay informed. Visit the websites for the colleges you are considering to find updates on admission policies and requirements and be in touch with us about changes to your upcoming applications. NACAC is providing this online resource to students and families as a centralized place where you can check for updates on all your schools.
Latest News! By popular demand I am offering a free zoominar on this topic Tuesday, April 21 at 5 pm. To participate, register at:
Meeting ID: 835 8593 4825
Questions? Let’s chat!
Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC