The Class of 2021 was the first to have their entire college admissions process disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, most colleges implemented test-optional policies so as to not disadvantage students who could not take an SAT or ACT admissions test. Now that their applications have been submitted, reviewed, and decided on, the results of this new approach are available to review.
So, the question we are getting more than any other right now is if a student should go test-optional this year?
In an unexpected announcement in mid-January, the College Board said it will cease all SAT Subject Tests immediately in the United States and that it will no longer offer the written essay portion of the SAT college admissions test.
Since March, the college admissions test process has become a string of hits and misses for students, test providers of the ACT and SAT, and colleges trying to inject equity into a chaotic admissions process. Many seniors were ultimately unable to test or decided that the effort was not worth it. With senior testing now complete, test capacity should open up for juniors who have been unable to test so far. With that in mind, those juniors planning to test in the first half of 2021 should prepare now to ensure their test plan succeeds.
The college admissions test companies continue to struggle with providing access to testing across the country. With many members of the Class of 2021 still lacking scores and the Class of 2022 gearing up to test this fall, the pressure is on for testing to be widely and safely available.
The companies are responding to the crisis with mixed results so far, but both are promising to deliver more testing capacity this fall and winter.
You have questions—we have the answers.
Parents looking to prepare their children for an uncertain educational future this coming year are asking what their kids need to focus on in the coming months and once school starts.
Here are our top tips for each grade level to make sure everyone gets their 2020-2021 school year started right.
With spring and early summer test dates canceled for the SAT and ACT, we continue to expect a huge demand for the next several test dates for both exams. While many colleges are offering test-optional policies for the class of 2021, we strongly advise students to provide test scores if possible. Students who need or plan to take any of these tests should register as soon as possible to ensure their seat.
If you were able to take the March 14 SAT test, count yourself lucky. The possibility of taking an in-person test in the next 6 weeks seems out of the question given the progression of safety measures enacted across the country. And if the situation does not improve, the future of the in-person college admissions testing regime is definitely in question.
This delay will build up demand for testing slots until testing can be administered safely and all students can access the tests successfully and fairly. We expect a big wave of students later in the year as current Juniors push to get second and third tests in before their applications are due in the late Fall/early winter.
So what do we know today about the future test availability and how should you plan your testing in the face of this uncertainty?
Update: No More SAT Subject Tests
In January 2021, the College Board announced it will no longer offer SAT Subject Tests in the United States, effective immediately. Learn how the changes to the SAT Subject Tests will affect students.
Our original post on the SAT Subject Tests is below.
You have questions—we have the answers.
One of the lesser known parts of the college admissions application puzzle are SAT Subject Tests. Because of the nebulous requirements for these college entrance exams at many schools, we often get asked what these tests are and if students need to worry about them for their applications.
Our answer: if you are applying to top-tier schools, most will want you to submit some combination of SAT Subject Tests, but only MIT still requires these tests to apply. For most other schools, the test scores can serve as an independent validation that your good grades in a subject were earned in a comprehensive course.
Juniors who took the PSAT/NMSQT test in October will get their scores back next week. Consider this the starting gun for your test preparation and planning efforts over the next 12 months. Not sure what else the test and its many scores mean?
By this time next year, you will be putting the finishing touches on a year of hard work, exploration, and self-discovery unlike anything you may do again in your lifetime. Daunting, yes, but remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You have been preparing for this coming year for more than a decade, and if you stay on track and follow some simple guidelines along the way, you will conquer the college admissions process in one piece and position yourself for future academic success at any number of schools.
At the highest level, your plan should include some key components for academics, testing and prep, and school research and selection. Each will be a facet of the college applications you will submit next year.
Here is our roadmap for how to break the process up into manageable chunks and which components to tackle as the year progresses.