In 2020 when many if not all colleges went test-optional, students with no access to testing centers or who had their test dates cancelled due to Covid, had no choice but to not submit test scores. Those who had taken an SAT or ACT pre-pandemic and liked their numbers sent colleges their scores even though they didn’t have to. Those who “hated tests” or were self-described “bad testers” were relieved.
Now it’s 2023 and most colleges are still test-optional though students are test-prepping again and testing centers are full, so what’s a student to do?
Take A Test
A few sophomores I’m coaching have informed me they won’t be testing. “Why not?” I asked and they explained that they no longer have to OR they don’t want to OR the major they’re contemplating (Humanities) isn’t concerned with numbers. When I explain that there’s a verbal section to the SAT/ACT, they’re nonplussed. When I suggest that maybe test scores will be required when these sophomores are applying, they say they’ll worry about it then. I say: Take a test, get the data and then decide.
Look At the Median Before You Submit
Before choosing not to submit scores, I advise students to research where their stats fall in the range of the college or major they’re applying to. If their SAT/ACT score is above 50% for certain programs, that’s respectable; if it’s below 75% in others, I suggest not to submit. The university or college itself factors into my decision as well as the overall profile of the student. Still, the median is a good place to start an evaluation process.
Go Easy on the Robo-Testing
I have a student who wants to keep testing. He’s had five SAT sittings and feels he can nudge up his Math score another 10 points. Meanwhile, he looks like hell. He’s exhausted, distracted and overextended with APs and extracurriculars. We had a heart-to-heart where I told him that 10 points wasn’t going to determine his application success, that post-Covid and post the Supreme Court Affirmative Action overturning, scores still aren’t as important an admissions determinant as they once were. Maintaining a strong GPA, leading the Debate Team to victory and getting some sleep (mental health points) are equally as important as scores. I also told him his super score was fine to submit to the schools on his list, news which pacified him. Some students are born “testers” while others could care less. In this sense, I read the room.
The upshot? There’s no one answer to this question though as application deadline dates approach, whatever path a student chooses will be the right one for them because they themselves decided. That’s the first step towards a successful college journey.