Greetings Students and Families,
I hope you had an opportunity to read my ongoing series on all things related to understanding what test scores are required – things are quite different during the 2020-21 application season given test optional policies and the temporary impact of our pandemic, Understanding the differences between ACT vs SAT exams and Test Optional Policies is essential for our seniors ’21. Test optional issues are complex this year and these policies and their interpretation vary by college. Seniors- if you have any concerns or questions on what to report or whether to report, please meet with your GC or reach out to schedule with me directly. Click to Schedule with Online College Counselor Bonnie Rabin, PhD
The 2020-21 College Admissions Cycle is indeed unique as over 750 college are now Test Optional. That said, your college list may include universities that prefer to see exams and it’s important to understand two more policies related to testing:
SCORE CHOICE and SUPER SCORE POLICIES
With the school year underway, juniors (class of 2022) may be wondering and likely planning their schedule of ACT & SAT exam preparation and testing. In my upcoming blogs, I also discuss the PSAT -and encourage both freshman (class of 2024) and sophomores (class of 2023) to take this test.
**** Are you aware that the College Board now offers both an October 2019 and January 2021 PSAT date – please consider the benefits of extra time to prepare as well as the opportunity to consider reducing your health risk if your community is currently a COVID hotspot or students reside with family at risk.
Let’s chat about your testing schedule- knowing what’s required and discussing how to prepare. Please reach out by phone or email.
Seniors (class of 2021) are in the process of preparing college essays and submitting college applications and may be questioning if their SAT or ACT score is high enough for their dream school. If your score is below the suggested range, questions about the last acceptable dates to sit for exams are on your mind. All students may be wondering when or whether to take an SAT or ACT?
In my recent blogs- You’ll find answers to all these questions.In COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PLANNING TIPS: TESTING – SAT, ACT & SUBJECT TESTS AP – WHAT’S REQUIRED?, I discussed the variety of the standardized exams high school students complete including: SAT/ACT, SATII Subject tests, and AP/IB/AICE. This recent blog discussed what’s required in college admissions, exam preparation and scheduling. If you prefer a less detailed version, please consider my video.
Let’s answer two pressing questions about the SAT/ACT I know are on the minds of many seniors (2020):
“WHAT IS THE LAST SCHEDULED FALL SAT/ACT SENIORS CAN TAKE TO MEET DEADLINES FOR SUBMITTING REQUIRED SCORES AS PART OF THEIR COMMONAPP COLLEGE APPLICATIONS?”
“DO I NEED TO WAIT TO SUBMIT MY COMMON APPLICATION UNTIL AFTER I TAKE OR SUBMIT MY FALL SAT/ACT EXAM SCORES?”
The answer to the first question depends on whether you’re an Early Action/Early Decision or Regular Decision applicant. For regular decision applicants, you can comfortably sit for the December exams. For EA/ED, and many public universities, the October date is typically the last acceptable test date. That said, please check each college’s website to review acceptable score report submissions.For example, if you’re applying to the University of Florida or Princeton, you can find information on the last accepted test dates for the 2020-21 Common Application cycle in highlighted links. If you’re not into predicting score report arrival dates- Emory has a very informative chart to ease even the most college-admissions angst filled readers today.
*** Students can and should submit completed college applications even if you anticipate taking late fall exams. Your college application is submitted separately from required external documents including your test scores, high school transcripts and teacher recommendations. Your application isn’t evaluated until all required components are received. That said, please submit your application as soon as your portions are complete regardless of whether you have taken all your exams and sent scores. There’s an actual bias against “later” applications. No prizes for submitting in August with the exception of “rolling admissions’ -in which case you will hear rather quickly if you are one of the first applicants to submit.
Your Common Application has a section where you will list all test dates completed or to be taken. Keep in mind, teacher recommendations and transcripts can and do arrive before or after your application and you don’t need to worry about whether these supporting documents find their way into your (I’ll say more about the process for managing your application later in the fall). It’s particularly important to integrate all of these choices with your Test Optional policies- test scores can be self reported (or not) on the Common App, send via your transcript (or removed if you desire) as well as sending official scores. Some colleges aren’t accepting scores this year- and this is a sensitive topic for those who have stellar scores to share- ask me how to do so properly.
Which format: ACT OR SAT?All colleges will accept either test format. Students are encouraged to explore both exams and take a practice test at home under test conditions. If you’re working with a test preparation service/tutor, you should expect an assessment of testing formats with customized test preparation based on YOUR STUDENT’s needs. It’s not a gamble- most students truly prefer one format over the other, much the way we all have a preference for a specific flavor of ice cream. You decide! (I prefer vanilla!)
SUPER SCORING AND SCORE CHOICE
Super Scoring and Score Choice options should relieve some of the stress over your SAT/ACT scores. Many colleges “superscore” which means that your application is evaluated on a composite score based on the best sub-scores across different test dates. This list can be found here:COLLEGE BOARD LIST OF SUPERSCORE UNIVERSITIES
If you don’t see a university on the list, the second way to absolutely confirm is to explore the admissions tab and application requirements at a specific university by locating (use Google – much faster than the navigational challenges of most college websites) college admissions testing requirements.
Even if a college isn’t on the superscore list- your college admissions officer is human- and all the scores displaying in your application are taken into full consideration. No university has a “cutoff” that eliminates you from receiving an acceptance letter. College admissions is truly holistic– What do Admissions Reps Consider?
LET’S TALK ABOUT SAT SCORE CHOICE -!
As part of your college application process, you’ll be submitting your test scores. It’s not as uncomplicated as it sounds-but the reality, different universities have unique policies on which test scores are required and how these are to be reviewed as part of your college application.
The BasicsScore Choice is a policy offered through the CollegeBoard that allows the student to determine which scores to share with colleges and which scores to exclude when reporting actual test scores as part of your college application. The ACT has a similar option for sending your scores. This is an awesome opportunity to highlight the best SAT/ACT scores and SAT II subject tests and omit any disappointing or “practice” tests you have taken (or for that matter- scores earned when you weren’t at your best- perhaps a day of – allergies? )
That said, while the College Board allows a student to select scores, not all universities adhere to a Score Choice policy. Moreover, and unknown to most families is that your high school transcript may already have included all your test scores. The College Board and ACT do report your scores to your high school. Your high school very likely has these scores reported on your official high school transcript. Private high schools have a wide range of policies to honor and support students’ requests to remove disappointing test scores from their official high school transcript. Public high schools typically are responsive to family requests to exclude the exam scores from your transcript- but sometimes this takes a bit of little work to get through the well-intentioned red-tape.
WHY USE SCORE CHOICE?As part of your test preparation, your tutor and you may have decided to experiment – test the waters. You may have sat for a baseline exam prior to beginning serious test preparation and the scores earned simply aren’t an accurate reflection of your abilities. Or maybe, you were sick the day of the exam and didn’t realize that you could skip the exam and the test fee (less a change date) could be applied to another testing date. Score choice is truly an invaluable option for test takers who experienced a huge improvement with more serious test preparation.
If the colleges you’re applying to participate in Score Choice- by all means be careful about choices of scores.
There’s a section of the Common App that asks whether you’ve taken any exams and have any scores to report. Here you will list test dates. So should you “omit” a date from the question if you don’t plan to report all your actual scores officially? This is a conversation to have with your college advisor. There is a final question on the Common Applicaiton — one you must agree to before you press the submit button– this question is an ‘honesty’- attestation-indicating you’ve answered all questions truthfully. So please make sure that your responses align and don’t try to deceive anyone. You must answer the Common App question about test dates- but you don’t have to share those scores. That’s why Score Choice exists.
That said, not all of your colleges will participate and many require you to submit ALL YOUR TEST SCORES. .
Here’s a sample of colleges that DO NOT allow for score choice. These colleges require that you submit all your test scores.
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Clarkson University
- Coker College
- College of Charleston
- College of St. Benedict
- Duquesne University
- East Georgia State College
- Elon University
- Georgetown University
- Gonzaga University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Loyola University, New Orleans
- Ohio Wesleyan University
- Seattle University
- Shorter University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of South Carolina
- Yale University
It’s really important to stay up-to-date and check college admissions websites for the specific requirements on reporting tests scores, whether SATII subject tests are required and the dates by which scores are to be received.
As the 2020-21 academic year gets underway, whether you’re a senior working on college applications or a freshman just beginning your journey- it’s really important to understand the process ahead. Having annual goals and a college plan to achieve those goals can reduce the guesswork and stress of the college admissions process.
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