COVID-19 and Admissions Exams: Test Prep Tips in Uncertain Times

Monday, April 20, 2020

AdobeStock_325307851Here’s What to Expect and How to Plan for the SAT and ACT This Summer and Fall

By Joey, IvyWise Master Tutor

With new developments and updates about COVID-19 unfolding everyday, high school juniors around the country have one question on their minds: “How will this affect my college applications this fall?” While an important query, this sustained uncertainty can raise stress levels in ways that are both unhealthy and unproductive for testing and academic goals.

All of this is unprecedented, so continue to expect unprecedented things. AP exams are going online and SAT and ACT exams might occur at times and in ways never previously administered. Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that arise, which might involve working to stay sharp academically during periods in which you’ve previously backed off the books. Here are some test prep tips and guidance to help you during this uncertain time.

Continue Your Test Prep
Now that we know the June SAT is cancelled, and the June and July ACT tests have make up dates should those also be cancelled, students can begin to adjust their test-taking schedules. While no one knows yet if additional dates will be made available later this summer or fall (or exactly when an online, at-home format for both tests will be available), it is essential to continue to study so that you can feel confident on test day (whenever that is). Consequently, students with a test date on their radar should continue to follow their study strategy and stay up-to-date on taking practice exams.

Take Practice Exams
Speaking of practice exams, now is not a bad time to take advantage of at-home practice tests! Scores from these are one of the best tools available to guide your ongoing studying. When working with students at IvyWise, we provide detailed score reports for practice exams so you can see your individual strengths and weaknesses and understand which specific topics should be the focus of your prep. The best practice exams are official exams from the College Board and ACT, of which more exist than you might expect!  Simply taking test after test absent reflection on what needs improvement, though, won’t help much–so consider having a tutor step in to assist.

Adjust Your Expectations and Have a Strategy
Be aware that exam scores might not play the role in your college prep that you initially thought they would. You might need several attempts, for instance, in order to hit a goal score for an SAT Subject Test, and it’s possible that social-distancing measures will extend long enough to force more cancellations of standardized testing and thereby make this infeasible. We’re advising students to prioritize the testing that matters the most. If you have to choose between taking an SAT Subject Test that you don’t really need or the SAT to improve your score – go for the SAT. Colleges know students’ choices are limited and many are de-emphasizing the need for SAT Subject Tests. Once you acknowledge the potential for your plans to change, you can begin to strategize: if you can’t take an SAT Subject Test look for other areas you can strengthen!

Take a Step Back If Needed
This is a hugely stressful period for everyone–and that really does include you. If the above notion of dedicated and serious prep feels right now like too much to engage in right now, that’s okay. Take your time and remember that there are timelines for successful college applications that involve testing early or later in the fall. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re missing a summer examination date. Alternately, you could continue with your plans to continue prep and “sit” for a June practice exam. Doing this can help you reframe the June test date as simply a benchmark of where you stand with regards to your goal scores.

Stay Informed
By its nature, a pandemic affects us all worldwide–including the whole of your future fellow applicants too! Colleges will continue to adapt their admissions processes to fit these circumstances. Keep on top of what they’re communicating while recognizing that, by no choice of your own, you are part of an academic cohort whose applications will carry the marks of COVID-19 across the board. Do not compare yourself to current seniors (or members of any other year, truly) in terms of what you “need” to have to gain acceptance at any particular school.

With all of the changes unfolding, it’s natural to feel a bit stressed about the future. However, students who have put in the hard work should feel confident about their future and trust that there will be a path for new and exciting opportunities for everyone. If you are interested in delving deeper into your test preparation process, our team of expert tutors can provide personalized guidance.


Related Topics

College Admissions Trends, COVID-19, Test Prep

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