To Test or Not To Test: Class of 2022

Until recently, taking the SAT or ACT was something college-bound students felt there was no way around, knowing that the great majority of colleges would require an SAT or ACT score.

Taking one of these standardized admissions exams was, in most cases, non-negotiable.

For the class of 2021, however, this taken for granted requirement fell away, as the pandemic toppled ‘normal’ testing policy.

As test sites were shut down, over 95% of selective four-year colleges and universities removed testing requirements, at least temporarily.

The move to “test-optional” at most colleges meant that the class of 2021 students didn’t find their possibilities terribly limited by not submitting test scores.

And tens of thousands of students will enroll at selective colleges this fall without having produced (or disclosed) an SAT or ACT score.

For the class of 2021, most colleges have rightly assumed that an applicant with no test scores didn’t have safe, easily available opportunities to test before their application was due.

This assumption is very different from what might have been assumed in past years: that uncompetitive scores were being concealed.

Which forces a question for the class of 2022:

Will a lack of scores for the class of 2022 be viewed as a necessity due to lack of safe testing opportunities, or as the concealing of an uncompetitive score.

Class of 2022: A Score Can Be An Asset

As testing conditions gradually improve this year there will be more summer and fall testing dates will be available in most regions of the country.

And as testing opportunities open up again, many of the more selective colleges may expect – and will likely receive – scores from most applicants.

Reports from test-prep companies are that there is NOT a reduced interest in testing by students planning to apply to competitive colleges in the 2022 admissions cycle.

Instead, many students are focusing not on what they can leave out of their applications, but on what others with similar opportunities are likely to present as strengths. And as such, choosing to test.

Like all voluntary pieces of an application, test scores will likely remain a valuable piece of the review process at many schools, especially those where demand for admission greatly exceeds available spots.

And yet, students who are disadvantaged or discouraged by testing will have more possibilities than ever before, as the option to withhold scores will remain common for the class of 2022 and beyond.

In fact, many highly selective schools have extended their temporary policies beyond this year, and  most others are expected to follow in their footsteps.

As you consider where to apply and if to submit scores, take time to read the policies schools are announcing, as they often provide more insight into the school’s attitude toward testing. 

For example, here are a few recently released statements from selective colleges: 

  • The suspension is — for now — temporary;
  • Those who are able to attain ACT/SAT scores are welcome to submit them;
  • Those who have test scores from other standardized exams are welcome to submit them.

All colleges will not treat the lack of scores the same, so dig a bit deeper when considering where you are applying and if you should plan to test. 

While you’re researching colleges and testing policies, you should also look at merit scholarship opportunities. 

Many colleges offer merit scholarships to students who meet certain academic criteria and, often, SAT or ACT scores are required to qualify, even at test-optional schools. 

It’s not uncommon for students to discover that their current test scores (or a very small increase in those scores), combined with their GPA, make them eligible for tens of thousands of dollars in merit aid. Learn more here

Set Yourself Up To Be As Prepared As Possible

 Here are some tips to set yourself up for success:

  • Focus on having the strongest possible second semester of junior year 
  • Assume opportunities to take the ACT or SAT will arise; watch for test dates, register, and be prepared to test if you feel it will be safe.
  • Expect some canceled or postponed events, especially in spring. 
  • Plan to use the summer and/or early fall dates to complete your testing.

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