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Standardized Testing Q&A

November 9th, 2021

Covid-19 and community disruption have brought tectonic change to the world of college admission, not least where testing requirements are concerned. We’ve been heartened to see more colleges adopt test-optional admission policies, yet as school life resumes something closer to a natural rhythm and registration for the SAT and ACT becomes less problematic, many wonder whether test-optional admission policies are here to stay. If you have questions surrounding this issue, today’s blog post is for you!

Will colleges return to requiring standardized testing in the 2022-2023 application cycle? Hmmm … some state university systems required tests this year; Florida and Georgia are two examples. On the other hand, the University of California system went in the opposite direction and will not consider scores even if submitted. Many colleges are in the midst of “pilot” test-optional policy periods that extend through this year and have yet to announce whether they’ll extend the policy further. That’s a long-winded way to say that in many cases, we’ll have to wait and see.

Should I plan to take the SAT or ACT? If you’re certain that you’ll only apply to test-optional colleges, then there’s no need to prepare or sit for the SAT or ACT. However, if there’s any wiggle room in your college list composition (and for most there is), then it will likely prove wise to prepare and register for the SAT or ACT.

How are test-optional colleges handling merit scholarships? Most colleges offering a test-optional path to admission take the same approach with merit scholarship awarding … but not all. Students should review websites carefully for this information when looking at colleges of interest.

How many times should I plan to take the SAT or ACT? Plan on three test dates, with the first falling winter/spring and the second at the end of junior year. The third can take place over the summer or early fall of senior year.

Where can I find a list of colleges with test-optional admission policies? Visit FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, for a searchable database of colleges.

The standardized testing dilemma has long been a problem but the pandemic combined with societal upheaval to bring it to the forefront of the college admission world’s consciousness. The article linked below from The Smithsonian informs us of the history in admissions testing and what the future might look like as schools begin to rebalance their approach to admissions.

Article referenced below from The Smithsonian, published July 15, 2021 written by Amber Dance

Has the Pandemic Put an End to the SAT and ACT?

Clara Chaplin had studied. She was ready. A junior at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, New York, she was scheduled to take the SAT on March 14, 2020. Then the pandemic hit, and the test was canceled.

The April SAT was canceled too. All through the spring and summer and into the fall, every test date she signed up for was either full or canceled. As she submitted her college applications on November 1, she still didn’t know how she’d score on the SAT she finally would manage to take on November 7.

Read more at Smithsonian>>

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The importance of a testing timeline

December 10th, 2019

As the semester is winding down and winter break is upon us, it is a great time to begin planning ahead for your next step in the college admissions process. Juniors will soon receive PSAT results, which means it’s time to determine a strategic plan for spring semester SAT and/or ACT testing.

Image via FastWeb

Have you mapped out your strategic testing plan for the months ahead? How will you juggle test preparation with studying and extracurricular commitments? The article linked below from Applerouth offers great food for thought about all of this.

(Note: Although Shropshire Educational Consulting is not affiliated with Applerouth, we trust their website and appreciate all that this test prep organization shares.)

Article referenced below from Applerouth, published February 13, 2019 written by Katie Rose-De Laet

Creating Your Student’s Best College Admissions Testing Timeline: How to Get Started

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. Springtime is when we really feel the need to plan out the future. It’s a great time to start making academic and test prep plans as well: you’re almost done with one academic year, but not yet bogged down in summer vacations and internships and part-time jobs. Many parents aren’t sure exactly where to start when it comes to planning out their student’s testing timeline – so we’re going to walk you through the process, starting at the end and working backwards!

If you don’t yet have a college testing timeline worked out for your student, this is the time to do it. If your student is a freshman or younger, it’s too early to begin any kind of test prep, but it’s never too early to work out a timeline. Planning ahead will make sure you don’t miss out on any deadlines, but it will also take a load off your mind and allow you and your student to focus on what’s most important, no matter where they are in their school career.

Read more at Applerouth>>

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Attention sophomores and juniors: Important college admission advice ahead

February 19th, 2019

What’s the most important document in your college application? 

You already know the answer – your transcript!  Colleges will review your course selection and rigor, in addition to your GPA, to ensure you’re prepared for college level classes. Course selection always entails a fine balance of challenge and manageability while continuing a strong and broad program of academic solids.  

Taking a difficult course load may look great on your transcript, but only if you’re able to excel.  Your teachers’ recommendations and your own intuition will help you decide on the degree of challenge you can manage effectively.  

We’ve linked to an article below from Yale University as it contains excellent guidance on course selection for all students, not just those applying to highly selective universities.  


In addition to choosing classes for next year, many of you are studying for the ACT or SAT.  It may seem like a daunting task but the winter months are a great time to prepare.  Juniors should all have a clear plan in place at this point for SAT or ACT test dates.  As both exams are now offered in the summer months, some students are now incorporating a summer test date into their overall testing plan.  A final note:  SAT Subject Tests remain important for a small number of colleges, so be sure to keep an eye on admission requirements for each college of interest.

Article referenced below from Yale University Admissions

Many high school sophomores and juniors (and their parents) want to know what courses to take to improve their chances for admission to Yale and other highly competitive colleges. With the caveat that every situation is different, here is some advice to help guide you as you make these decisions.

A Holistic Approach to Admissions

The high school transcript is almost always the most important document in a student’s application. But it is hard to conceive of a situation in which the appearance (or absence) of any one particular class on a transcript would determine the applicant’s outcome. The admissions committee does not make its decisions based on a piecemeal review of an applicant’s recommendations, test scores, activities, or individual elements of a high school transcript. It considers each application as a comprehensive picture of that student.

Read more at Yale's admissions site >>

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Are test-optional colleges more diverse?

May 14th, 2018

As more colleges eliminate standardized tests from their admission requirements, the long-standing debate about whether test-optional schools provide more diversity on campus is still going strong.  Studies have documented a correlation between family income and test performance.  The higher the income, the more opportunities for test prep classes, which in turn increase scores.  This typically leaves low income families, including many minority students, at a disadvantage.  

Our experience shows that test scores do not always reflect a student’s strengths and abilities and we have a great appreciation for colleges that are test-optional, interested in understanding all facets of an applicant.

One significant question remains to be answered: does a test-optional admission policy really diversify a college campus?  In today’s article from Inside Higher Ed, writer Scott Jaschik lays out all the evidence.  After reviewing this article, what are your thoughts? 

For a full list of schools that have a test-optional or flexible test policy, please visit

Article referenced below published April 27, 2018 by Inside HigherEd

Each year, more colleges announce that they are ending requirements that applicants submit SAT and ACT scores — joining hundreds of others in the “test-optional” camp. Just this week, Augsburg University in Minnesota made such a shift. The university’s announcement said that the policy had strong faculty support and was seen as likely to boost the diversity of the student body. High school grades in college preparatory courses are the key to good admissions decisions, said officials there, just as their peers have said at many other institutions.

Read more at Inside HigherEd >>

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