Over the past week, colleges have swiftly made decisions that will be impacting the graduating class of 2020 and beyond. I want to use this opportunity to bring you up to speed on these changes so that you are well informed.
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SAT, SAT Subject & AP Exams
The College Board, which administers the SAT and AP Tests, is continually updating its list of test center closings and location changes for both US and international sites.
- The May 2nd and the makeup test date scheduled for March 28th have been canceled for both the SAT and SAT Subject Test.
- As of March 24th, the June 6th test date is still scheduled to take place. We recommend that students not wait until the last minute to register for this date.
- For the latest details and information, please visit https://pages.collegeboard.org/natural-disasters
SAT Subject Tests
- At this time, we do not have clarity about the weight that the SAT Subject Test will have on the admission applications for the Class of 2021 (current 11th graders).
- Our advice to clients for years has been to take the SAT Subject Test after three consecutive years of taking a foreign language course or immediately after completing the course in high school. We have found that the required preparation for the AP exam can help students prepare for the Subject Test too. However, there have been recent pleas from school counselors and educational consultants to colleges requesting the removal of the Subject Test from the application process (specifically from those schools that require or recommend it) for at least the upcoming 2020-2021 admission cycle.
- As of March 20th, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has discontinued the use of Subject Tests starting with the 2020-21 admissions cycle for first-year and transfer admissions (for students entering MIT in 2021 and beyond). For more details, please visit https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/a-special-announcement-about-sat-subject-tests/
- We will share more information about other schools that drop the requirements as they are released.
Advanced Placement (AP) Changes
- On March 20th, Collegeboard announced they will offer AP exams on two separate dates and will allow students to take the exam from the comfort of their homes.
- The exam will be 45-minutes in length and will be limited to material covered through early March.
- It will not be multiple-choice, but a free-response exam instead.
- For the latest details, please visit https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update
- ACT has rescheduled its April 4th national test date to June 13th. All students registered for the April 4th test date will receive an email from ACT informing them of the postponement and instructions for free rescheduling to June 13th or any future national test date.
- For the latest updates, please visit https://www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html
New Online ACT
- ACT announced in October 2019 plans to alter testing and scoring policies drastically. Starting in September 2020, students will be able to:
- Retake individual ACT sections instead of the full ACT
- Choose between online testing with faster results (2 days) or paper testing
- Receive an ACT Superscore
- Students who are interested in ACT section retesting should know these three facts:
- Section retests are available only in digital format.
- Students can retake up to three sections per sitting over seven dates.
- The cost and registration procedures are not known yet.
- For more details, please visit https://www.act.org/content/act/en/act-september-2020.html
Test-Optional & Test-Flexible Plans
- If you are a student that believes your test scores do not accurately reflect your academic potential or have time constraints due to the pandemic, then you may want to consider reviewing the list of colleges at www.fairtest.org that offer test-optional and test-flexible plans.
- On March 24th, Tufts University announced the introduction of a test-optional admissions policy for all undergraduate applicants as a 3-year trial, beginning with applicants applying for the 2020-21 admissions cycle. For more details, please visit https://admissions.tufts.edu/blogs/inside-admissions/post/tufts-introduces-sat-act-test-optional-admissions-policy/
- On March 25th, Case Western Reserve University and Boston University have adopted a test-optional policy for students applying for the 2020-21 admissions cycle only.
- As of 9:30 AM on March 26th, other schools that have recently added to the list of test-optional colleges (at least for this admissions cycle) are the University of Redland, Oregon State University, Oregon Insitute of Technology, Chapman University, and Indiana University.
Other Grading & Testing Updates
- Harvard University will not penalize applicants if their high schools move to a pass-fail grading system or if they are unable to retake the SAT, SAT Subject, or ACT due to the pandemic. For more details, please visit https://bit.ly/3ajJR1c
2. Testing Resources
Kaplan Test Prep
- Kaplan is giving away 1-month access to their on-demand ONLINE SAT Test Prep.
- To help students prepare for Advanced Placement exams, Kaplan will be hosting live review and Q&A sessions on their YouTube, which will be led by expert instructors. The review sessions go live starting at 1 PM EST on weekdays through at least Friday, March 27th.
- To review a list of previous recordings click here
3. Recommended Testing Plan
Because of the recent changes, I have updated my general testing plan recommendations:
- Current 10th graders – In the past, I have been vigilant that the first time I wanted a student to take the ACT/SAT was by the Spring of their junior year. However, at this time, I am going to suggest the 10th -grade students begin to prepare for the test(s) a little sooner.
- Current 11th graders – I recommend students sign up for the next two offered test dates of their respective stronger test. We will use the exam scores to see where the deficits are in planning for the next offered test.
4. College Information & Virtual Tours
Campus Closures, Deposit Deadlines, & Other Changes
- According to Inside Higher Ed (3/16), the coronavirus is forcing colleges to rethink their admission process and has “created pressure to start producing their first online content for newly admitted students, or to greatly improve the content.”
- As a service to students and families, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has created an online tool that is a central resource on changes to the college admissions process due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- The tool includes information from colleges and universities on campus closures, deposit deadlines, and other admission-related changes. The information is updated automatically in real-time as input is received from postsecondary institutions: nacacnet.org/college-admission-status-coronavirus
- A campus tour is a quintessential part of the college search. First, they help a student make the right-fit decision. Second, a college tour demonstrates interest. Many colleges absolutely factor ‘Demonstrated Interest’ into their rubric for admissions. There may be a chance if you have not visited their campus or reached out personally to your local admission representative that there may be hesitation to extend acceptance offers. The reasoning behind this is because they don’t have confidence that you will accept it (often regardless of your impressive data).
- Spring and summer breaks are when most families make time to visit different campuses. Colleges realize that the restrictions of the pandemic will hinder a student’s opportunity to connect in-person. Because of this, colleges have been focusing on increasing their online presence due to their closures. I have compiled a list of my favorite sources for virtual tours. Some of the tours are virtual goggles enabled.
I used Harvard’s new virtual tour as an example, but I believe most colleges will be following suit to attract potential students.
- Did you know that colleges track potential applicants throughout the application process? Visit the individual college websites on your list and join their mailing list using your college email address. (Be sure to create a professional email designated for college admissions only.)
- Please note that it is VITAL to check your email frequently. When you receive an email from a college, open it. Colleges are beginning to track to see if and when you open their emails.
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