“What should I do about testing?”
Since March of 2020 (aka the beginning of the pandemic), I have gotten the above question more than any other. Even in the best of times (read, normal), the answer to this question is multi-layered and depends greatly on the student and the schools to which they plan to apply. Nowadays, the layers to this answer are exponentially greater.
At this point in the application season, most seniors have probably already figured out their own best answer to the question of testing. Since so many testing centers cancelled their ACT or SAT this spring and summer, many colleges have moved to test optional admissions. However, it is worth mentioning that some colleges and universities are still requiring test scores for admission. For example, public universities in Florida have not waived ACT or SAT for admission. Moreover, many schools may not require test submissions for admission, but may require test scores for honors programs, certain majors (e.g. nursing and engineering), or competitive scholarships.
PRO TIP = Always double check each school’s admissions website, testing policy, and your major’s department website to determine if scores are required.
Juniors + Sophomores:
This is where a crystal ball would come in handy. As I write this, many states across the country are seeing daily record highs of virus outbreaks. It stands to reason that test centers for upcoming December test dates for both ACT or SAT may end up cancelling their administrations. It’s also hard to believe that things will improve drastically in time for January and February test dates. Therefore, juniors could find themselves in the same position with testing that many current seniors have faced.
All of this, of course, is speculation.
In the face of such uncertainty, Estrela consultants encourage students and families to “control what you can control.” As it relates to testing, the controllable element is your degree of preparation. Continue to prepare to take the ACT or SAT as if you will still be testing on whatever specific dates you have chosen for your rounds of testing. With this mentality, you will be ready to test no matter when the test center follows through according to plan. Unquestionably, there are pros and cons to the “always ready” mentality. A notable con is the constant drawn out test prep a student will likely have to endure in order to stay “ready.”
Our suggestion? Treat test preparation as another elective class that a student is taking out of school. Put in 1-2 hours a week of prep (either with a tutor or individually using books and virtual resources). Complete self-assessments like full-length and section-based practice tests once a month leading up to each planned test date.
Like many other realities of 2020, this testing likelihood is not ideal. The difference now is that we have been through it with current seniors and can recommend what we “wish we would have known then.”PRO TIP = Prepare for testing as you would any other year. Do not be lulled into submission by the hope of test optional practices continuing in admissions next year.