Understanding Testing & College Admissions Planning isn’t clear at all!

Greetings Students & Families
Whether you’re a senior ’21 set for one more run of your SAT/ACT in December or a Sophomore/Junior beginning test preparation and creating your schedule- this note is for you.

There is still time to register for the December ACT and SAT with late registration fees.

In this multi-part blog series, I’ll provide families with EVERYTHING you need to know about the role of a variety of standardized tests in college admissions and I encourage you to reach out with questions about your specific situation. A few weeks ago, my blog Everything to Know About College Admissions. was posted- and I’m thrilled to hear how much you appreciate my detailed and informative (and yes lengthy!) resources relevant to families in 8th to 12 grades. Please reach out to schedule your College Admissions Planning Assessment.

I invite families to schedule a conversation about working togehter to set and realize your educational and college admissions goals.
Despite the ongoing pandemic – and the necessity of social distancing- our Holiday Season has arrived — YAY! I wish your family a joyous and healthy holiday season! ….
….I’d like to again call attention to an amazing initiative: Giving Tuesday !!I hope your family will pledge to connect with your community in a way that reflects your values.  Click to Learn More:  GIVING TUESDAY – this initiative runs thru the holidays and beyond.

Before jumping into my discussion about all things related to the SAT and ACT,  I’ll take a moment to answer two pressing questions our seniors might be pondering:

“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?”  and

“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.If you’re an ED/EA applicant- the last testing dates have passed in November (and I reminded everyone in my earlier note on ED/EA about testing).

For seniors 2021 who are regular decision applicants, you can comfortably sit for the December test dates (and some colleges are even accepting later dates- but that is still a rare exception). If you’re a junior thinking ahead to EA/ED — heads up– for many public universities, the October date is typically the last acceptable test date (this year is an exception- November testing was an option for many colleges) for regular admissions and it is the last test date for ED/EA. That said, please check each college’s website to review acceptable score report submissions guidelines.  Learn More About Early Decision & Early Action

*** Seniors 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. As I’ve noted in many newsletters and blogs, 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.FOR MORE ON THESE POINTS: Please Read my informative note:  COLLEGE APPLICATIONS – TEACHER RECOMMENDATIONS, HS TRANSCRIPTS & TEST SCORES

Should I list my scores on the Common App?Each situation is unique– please speak with your GC or give me a call to discuss whether doing so will be a useful college application strategy or not. Our current seniors are facing an interesting opportunity as several hundred colleges are test optional this year (more about this policy follows below including whether that will continue for our juniors and sophomores).
Your Common Application has a section where you will list all test dates completed or to be taken. It is totally acceptable to leave that section blank -and should you sit for December – and test scores exceed your expectations- the official score report can be sent to colleges. Also, many but not all high schools automatically include your scores on your official transcript.*** Seniors – please don’t forget to send required mid-year transcripts in January to all colleges.

Should I send an official score? How Do I report my score unofficially?
Moreover- by all means if you have a great score- submit it officially, list it on your Common App and retain that score on your high school transcript. Please note, even if reported on the Common App, you’ll observe that some test optional colleges- such as UPenn and others – supress the score and will not see that section of your self-report on the common app.
If your score is BELOW the reported 25th percentile of typically accepted applicants- don’t report- you’re better served without that score on your application and high school transcript.
Scores are submitted in three potential ways:

1) Unofficially as a self-report on the Common App

2) In some high schools these are on your official transcript (and you can request these are removed

)3) Official scores are ordered through the College Board or ACT – do NOT DO NOT DO NOT send the three free scores available to you when you register- what if the score is “awful” -? Wait to see the score before you send the score–PERIOD!

My score isn’t great- in fact it’s truly inconsistent with my GPA and other accomplishments- how can I eliminate this score from consideration?   First and foremost- don’t send it. Please don’t list it on your Common Application and request that your score be removed from your official high school transcript.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TESTING??All families have many questions about testing

  • What’s the difference between the SAT and ACT?
  • What’s required for college applications?
  • What does “Test Optional” mean exactly?
  • When should a student prepare and test? How many times can you take the SAT/ACT?
  • When and how to send scores? What’s Score Choice and Super Score testing all about?
  • What Scholarships are related to my test scores? Is there a minimum score for state plans such as the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship?
  • Under what circumstances should we focus on subject tests and AP/IB/AICE exams over SAT/ACT scores in our college application?
  • How does early college planning increase chances of college acceptance by integrating the high school curriculum with the timing and required admissions exams such as SAT subject tests?

In this very detailed blog series, , I’ll answer all these questions and we’ll explore how testing is an essential part of forming your balanced list of colleges. Early academic planning can be invaluable to positioning each student to realize educational goals that are affordable.

Click to schedule an informative College Admissions Planning Session with Online College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD

Warm regards, 

Bonnie Rabin, PhD

CLICK TO CONNECT With Bonnie Rabin, PhD

Best wishes for an absolutely meaningful and enriching balance of our school year and a Happy & HEALTHY Holiday Season.  


Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational & College Admissions Consultant brabin@collegecareerconsulting.com

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