COVID-19 and Test Optional Policy of the College Board

The impact of COVID-19 and our efforts to flatten the curve of its spread in the United States continue to send shockwaves through education. The College Board has canceled its June 2020 test (though it promises that tests will be offered every month starting in August 2020), and schools on every level of the college spectrum, from Tulane and the California State schools to the University of California system and even Cornell have begun declaring that SAT and ACT scores will not be required for those applying in the fall of 2020. Wonderful, families rejoice! This is a great thing! We can eliminate a stressful element of the college applications process, and our students can focus on more important, relevant things, right?


History of Test-Optional Policies for SAT and ACT

Test optional policies had actually begun to pick up steam before coronavirus came to call, primarily motivated by some schools’ belief that test scores did not do a good job of representing a student’s potential. These schools, including Wake Forest and the University of Chicago, have seen an influx of applicants, and that may indeed have been the point; with more people applying and thinking they have a chance at these elite schools—but with class sizes remaining the same—these schools’ acceptance rates plummet, and their coveted measure of ‘selectivity’ correspondingly skyrockets.

Test-Optional Policy in Practice for COVID-19

The reality has always been that a student’s test score is one more way they can prove themselves to the schools they apply to. By removing that score from the picture, a student has voluntarily left themselves at a disadvantage, and this will prove doubly true in the time of online schooling and severely curtailed activity. Instead, students and families should see this as a golden opportunity. Now, at a time when they have never had more time, students can buckle down, study intensively, and come August, knock these tests out of the park. Then, when college applications do eventually come around this fall, they can show their schools that instead of just satisfying the bare minimum requirements, they went the extra mile to demonstrate how prepared they are to attend the college of their dreams.

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Tags: Higher Education, College, College Counseling, College Admissions, College Applications, College Test Prep, SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, Summer Planning