Test Prep Update

By now, most of you will have heard that the June SAT has been cancelled, leaving the next scheduled tests late in August and early in October. If you read my e-mail blast from last week, you’ll know that I predicted this. Whether or not additional tests are scheduled in mid-summer or early fall will depend on how the virus (and the economy) progresses. Stay tuned.

You may also have heard that schools are not going to require SAT or ACT scores for the next admission cycle. This is not a surprise either. I’ve written in earlier blog postings that colleges use test optional status to suggest that applicants get more individualized attention, and that schools which are test optional are practicing good citizenship by leveling the college application playing field for economically disadvantaged and racial/ethnic minority students. While this may be true, it’s also important to remember that colleges are businesses, and businesses don’t remain viable without customers. You can bet that admissions board rooms are wrestling right now with the issue of how to keep present enrollees whose parents may not be able to continue paying tuition due to job loss or business reversal, along with attracting new students who may not be able to attend for the same reason. So, see this sudden test optional shift as a higher education survival strategy along with other, more circumstantial, less self-serving explanations.

Now, consider three thoughts:
First, although colleges aren’t requiring test scores, they’re not saying they won’t take them into consideration if you submit them.

Second, good test scores get you scholarship opportunities.

Third, tests like the SAT and the ACT are great self-assessment tools. Yes, they showcase strengths, but they also reveal weaknesses, some of which may follow you into college if you don’t address them now. I encourage all of my students to take retired SAT’s and ACT’s, even if they’re applying exclusively to test optional schools, for the purpose of self-assessment. These tests are available online at no cost with answers and answer explanations.

As for me, I’ve always used these tests as vehicles to help students improve in reading comprehension and written composition. I keep in touch with former students who now attend college. They frequently express their gratitude for my having given them the reading and writing skills which have made it possible for them to succeed on the college level. To my mind, test prep is really college prep.