SAT/ACT Update + Some Thoughts

First, an SAT/ACT update, then a college admissions update, then some perspective.

SAT/ACT

Today, the College Board announced that the June SAT is cancelled due to the continuing uncertainty over COVID-19. Click here for details.

At the same time, the Board announced that they will be holding an SAT each month in 2020, starting August 29. This includes a TBD date in September, October 3, November 7, and December 5.

The registration dates for the fall SATs will open in May.

If (heaven help us) schools do not re-open in person this fall, the SAT will be offered in a digital format at home.

As for the ACT, so far the June 13th test has not been cancelled but it should probably be considered extremely tentative at this point. Future test dates this year include July 18th, September 12th, October 24th, and December 12th. Keep in mind, the ACT incorporates an online option starting in September.

Students registered for the June test as well as juniors with no SAT scores on file will have priority registration for the fall tests, so it may be wise not to seek refund without clarifying where you’ll be in line this fall.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS

Given the difficulties in getting the tests administered this spring/summer, a growing number of colleges and universities are making the SAT and ACT tests optional for 2021 admission.

This includes some heavy hitters in Washington State like UW, Gonzaga, Seattle University, and potentially others, not to mention the entire highly competitive University of California and California State University systems.

So if the SAT or ACT is optional for 2021 (and even possibly beyond), does it make sense for rising seniors to skip the stress and sit these out?

It would be a mistake to think that.

SOME PERSPECTIVE

First, part of my job is to train students to do their best on the SAT and ACT, so consider that. But by the same token, I keep on top of college admissions trends and have been in contact with admissions officers throughout the state and across the country about this.

Students who can should still take the SAT or ACT (or both), prepare strategically, do their best, and report their good scores when they apply to college.

Not all colleges have gone optional for entrance exams, and most admissions experts agree that “optional” will basically mean “required” when it comes to competitive programs, merit-based scholarships, graduation requirements, and other decisions where comparative academic merit must be weighed.

Even the University of California system, which assures student that not submitting scores will not harm their chances, nevertheless states that reporting SAT/ACT scores “can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements.”

I’ve communicated with admissions officials at different universities in Washington who take a similar view, although their departments are still working out the details of these temporary policy changes.

So just like taking the (good) letter grade over opting for a pass/fail right now, when possible, taking and submitting achievements you’re proud of on the SAT/ACT can only help — all the more in competitive environments.

So stay positive, keep up the momentum, and get ready to excel this fall and beyond!

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