by Tim Tibbitts
Are college entrance exams still relevant? When COVID rocked our world in 2020, a whole bunch of colleges and universities elected to go—temporarily—test optional. In other words, the kids who were high school juniors during the 2020-21 school year—the class whose access to ACT and SAT test dates was most dramatically limited by the quarantines associated with the beginning of the pandemic—could choose to apply to a much wider range of colleges than ever without needing to submit test scores. This list included a number of schools with highly selective admissions processes.
As we head into the 2022-23 school year, some of those temporarily test-optional colleges are back to business as usual, once again requiring an ACT or SAT score as part of the admissions process. Many have decided to continue to make it up to students to decide whether to submit scores or not. My purpose here is not to provide an exhausting list of test-required vs. test-optional schools, nor to offer advice about which is the better route. Indeed, I think the decision should be an individual one based on a student’s goals, academic profile, etc. What I would like to offer here is a reminder of a handful of reasons to consider taking the ACT and/or SAT—seriously.
Many scholarships are (still) tied directly to test scores. The desire to gain admission to a highly competitive college or university is a big reason students work hard to put their best foot forward on college entrance exams, but it’s not the only reason. Even in places where submitting scores is optional for admission, a strong showing on the ACT or SAT can bring significant reduction in tuition, and many outside scholarship opportunities use test scores a criterion for selection.
You are interested in being granted direct admission to a particular college within a larger university. A client recently shared with me that her son had decided to opt out of taking the ACT or SAT, only to find out upon acceptance to the university of his choice that in order to be admitted directly to the College of Business, he would need to submit test scores.
You’re a fantastic test taker. Just because a college does not currently require you to submit test scores, that doesn’t mean that it would be bad for your application to do so. Test-optional admissions is a brave new world for a lot of the universities that are currently exploring that option. The folks who work in those admissions offices are certainly not going to be put off by seeing stellar test scores as someone’s admissions package.
So, if you’ve decided to forego the stress and time commitment involved in test prep, I say “Good for you. Enjoy that extra time!”
But if it makes sense—for one of the reasons above or for another reason of your own—please consider calling on The Whole Kid for some guidance and support along the way. And whether you decide to use our services or not, I’m always happy to help families think through the process. Feel free to call or text me at 216.235.3115.
And either way, good luck!