Universities say that the application review process will remain relatively unchanged.
Published: May 1, 2021
By: International College Counselors
Without a doubt, some of you have already seen the recent news about colleges extending their SAT and ACT test-optional policy for 2022, and heard about the changes to the SAT. A lot of you are cheering the changes!
The backstory: In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult or impossible for many students to take the ACT and the SAT, a large majority of colleges chose to institute temporary (or, in some cases, permanent) test-optional policies. These schools included every Ivy League university, most large public universities, and many liberal arts colleges.
Currently: A number of colleges, including several Ivies, are declaring test-optional policies for the Class of 2022. Many colleges, even those which thought they’d return to the test, will remain test-optional. The SAT itself is dropping the optional essay section. Also eliminated, effective immediately, are the SAT Subject Tests, which were hour-long, multiple-choice exams in various subjects.
What students and parents need to know: Universities say that the application review process will remain relatively unchanged. However, without the data from the test scores, colleges will be looking to compensate for this missing information elsewhere. So, with test scores gone, other parts of the “holistic application review” will count more.
- Students must continue to take rigorous courses and focus on strong grades. A student’s grades, and the strength of their courses, remain the most significant factor in college admission decisions.
- College essays will increase in importance. These are a significant piece of the application, and some colleges have added additional essays to their application process. Essays measure writing ability and offer a window into a student’s background. Admission officers want to hear an original voice and read writing that shines.
- Letters of recommendations will count more. Naturally, students who are attending school virtually will find it harder to build a relationship with their teachers. We recommend students attend teacher’s office hours, make sure to talk online and participate in class.
- Reap extra points by demonstrating interest, as colleges want to admit students who will enroll. Students have many options to make positive contact with colleges. Go on virtual tours, attend information sessions, and connect with the schools you plan to apply to on social media. Many colleges track each interaction.
- Stand out with extracurricular activities. Take advantage of the myriad virtual options, including community service options.
Check this Fair Test List, www.fairtest.org/university/optional, for a list of every school that will be test-optional, test-flexible, or test-blind for the high school class of 2022. To clarify, a test-optional school accepts but does not require test scores; a test-flexible school is one that allows a student to submit test scores other than the SAT or ACT (such as Subject Test, AP or IB scores); and a test-blind school is one that will not consider any test scores from any student, even if a student submits them.
However, note that some colleges require students who apply for merit aid or honors programs, and/or students applying to particular programs (such as BS/MD programs) to submit an SAT or ACT score even if the college is otherwise test-optional. Check the policies for each school/program of choice.
Used by permission. For any and all help with the college admissions process, contact International College Counselors. Visit internationalcollegecounselors.com/ or call 1-954-414-9986.