March 3, 2021

By Kerry A. Lynch

In a late September blog post about standardized testing, I stated that the future was hard to predict but the key is to plan for testing until it is totally clear that it won’t be needed at all. Here I am, telling you how to plan for testing!

While many colleges and universities are maintaining test-optional policies through the next admissions cycle, very few have committed to being test blind. Test-optional means (and truly does mean) that a student who does not submit scores will be considered fully and fairly for admission based on the application and supporting materials submitted. Test blind means that the college has decided not to look at anyone’s test scores. So, a test-optional policy helps students who could not test or could not prepare to test and score effectively. However, strong test scores on the ACT or the SAT (in the top 50% or higher of the college’s average range or above the range) can enhance admissions chances, because they are one more piece of positive evidence. 

So, test! Here are our tips on setting your own standardized testing schedule: 

  • Where to start?  Practice and preparation are key and because you do not know if you will have a second opportunity, make your best effort on your first test session.
  • Need to determine which test is right for you? See above! Through practice and preparation, you will be able to tell which test you are getting better results with and/or which test feels more “right” for you. There is no one right test for any particular college.
  • When to start? Now. Register for either test to be sure you can get a seat. Depending on your location, you might find that May test sites have already canceled so register for June and get your name on the list. 
  • What to do next? Once you have a registration date, mark three weeks in advance on your calendar and set time aside each day to prepare. This is the best time to learn strategies and up your game.
  • Final thoughts? It could be a bumpy ride again this year with limited test sites and cancellations. Colleges know this and will continue to adapt their policies. Try to relax about the things outside your control and focus on your grades and selecting a good roster of courses for next year. 

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