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To test or not to test …

February 16th, 2021

Challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic continue as SAT, ACT and SSAT testing sites are a concern for safety and spread of the virus. Many testing centers have limited capacity or have shut down altogether, sometimes with little to no notice.

As a result, many colleges and boarding schools adopted test-optional admission policies this year and while some have announced extensions of the policy, many schools and colleges are still considering whether to remain test-optional for next year’s application cycle. The lack of certainty leaves a lot of younger students wondering whether to test or not.

Image via US News/GETTY Images

This is a good question and carries a lot of weight for some students. The simple answer is, in our opinion, it depends.

  • Students who do well in school but have a history of standardized test results not matching their in-school performance need not invest time in testing or test-prep IF the colleges or boarding schools they plan on applying to will be test-optional in their application cycle.
  • On the other hand, students who have a history of strong standardized test results may see benefit from including test scores in their applications, so preparation and testing may make sense for them.

The article linked below from US News does a great job explaining the ins and outs of test-optional for students pondering this decision. Although written with college in mind, boarding school families will find some relevance.

We have only one hesitation in sharing this article, as it ends with encouragement for all students to test. As you see above, this is a philosophy with which we differ.

Article referenced below from US News, written by Josh Moody, published on December 18, 2020

Navigating Test-Optional Admissions Amid COVID-19

WHEN THE NOVEL coronavirus began to spread throughout the U.S., it upended numerous facets of higher education such as in-person instruction, the college admissions cycle and entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT.

Test-makers canceled previously planned sessions of the ACT and SAT and shifted those exams to later dates, though many of those sessions had to be scrapped due to pandemic-related concerns. In response, many colleges reacted to the pandemic by removing testing requirements for applicants and announcing test-optional pilot programs, with their length varying by school.

“I think it is a good thing for students, but it does require students to work a little bit harder, and to learn what these different policies might mean for them,” says Ginger Fay, director of independent educational consultant engagement at Applerouth Tutoring Services in Atlanta.

Since the pandemic hit, the number of colleges requiring the ACT and SAT has dramatically decreased, notes Robert Schaeffer, interim executive director of FairTest, which has long fought to reduce the role of standardized testing in college admissions.

Read more at US News>>