Just Admit It: What’s Going on With Standardized Testing?

By IvyWise on Friday, November 20, 2020

Learn What’s Happening With Standardized Testing Right Now

It’s a question on many students’ minds, particularly during an application cycle marked with uncertainty: what’s happening with standardized testing? With an increasing number of schools transitioning to test optional policies, some applicants may wonder if it is even worth it to take the SAT or ACT.

If these uncertainties sound familiar to you, our team of expert college admissions counselors are here to break it down in a recent episode of the Just Admit It! podcastJust Admit It! What’s Going on with Standardized Testing? In this episode, IvyWise counselors Nat and Eric get together to discuss general standardized testing advice and what students can expect with changes due to COVID-19. Keep reading to learn some of the most crucial testing updates and check out Just Admit It! to gain even more insights.

Test-Optional Doesn’t Mean Test-Blind

As colleges continue to embrace test-optional policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students may question the value of taking an exam in the first place. To determine whether testing should be part of your to-do list, it’s important to understand the difference between two phrases that sound fairly similar: test-optional and test-blind. 

Test-optional indicates that students do not need to submit a score to apply to a college. However, if an applicant does submit an SAT/ACT score, admissions officers can use this information to help them make an admissions decision. In contrast, test-blind describes an admissions process in which standardized testing scores will not be reviewed at all when college admissions officers evaluate applications – even if they are self-reported or provided via an official score report.

Most colleges that are adapting their testing policies are moving to a test-optional model, not test-blind. Consequently, we recommend that students who are able to sit for an SAT or ACT exam should consider doing this and submitting their score as part of their application.

When it Comes to Testing, Prioritize the SAT/ACT

Given the limited testing availability, some students may also be wondering which exams they should prioritize: the SAT/ACT or SAT Subject Tests? In most scenarios, the answer will likely be either the SAT or ACT versus the SAT Subject Tests. SAT and ACT scores can have a big impact on every college: schools present the averages of these scores as part of their student profile and they can also influence a college’s ranking on lists such as those compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

Starting Early is Still Crucial

For students in their earlier years of high school, we don’t recommend taking a pause on test preparation. Instead, we encourage all students to get started on their SAT or ACT journey as early as their sophomore year. Aim to take diagnostics during 10th grade, prepare throughout the summer before junior year, and sit for the exam during the fall. For students who will need testing accommodations such as extended time, it’s also important to begin this process early. Even if you have testing accommodations in your high school, you will need to get evaluated to make sure you are eligible for the SAT or ACT.

Don’t Skip Out on Diagnostics

Another word on diagnostics: don’t skip out on them. The best way to decide whether you wish to focus on the SAT or ACT is by taking a full length exam for each. Although the tests have become more similar to one another in recent years, there are still some distinct differences. For example, the ACT has more trigonometry than the SAT, and there’s also a greater emphasis on the number of questions you will need to answer per minute. 

While there are certainly changes going on in the world of standardized testing, we still encourage students to get a head start on their preparation and strive to take an exam if possible. If you are preparing to take an exam and looking for additional guidance, our team of college admissions experts can answer all of your questions. 

For more college admissions insight from IvyWise experts and former admissions officers, subscribe to the Just Admit It! podcast today.

Related Topics
Study Tips/Time Management, Test Prep
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