Candice Anvari staff writer
For decades, the SAT or ACT was a college application staple. However, due to the coronavirus, many colleges decided to either cancel their standardized testing requirement or make it optional. Colleges will take into consideration multiple factors throughout the admissions process in order to counteract the vacancy left by test scores.
In a Beverly Media Group survey of 101 juniors, 56% of the juniors who responded intend on taking the SAT or ACT, 36% of students are not sure if they will take it and 8% of the juniors do not intend on taking either test. As of right now, about 1,000 colleges and universities are test optional, including the Universities of California system.
Due to the pandemic, college counselor Casey Rowley believes that colleges will conform their expectations throughout the admissions process.
“I am happy that colleges are so quick to react with the current climate,” Rowley said. “Grades and transcripts have always been one of the strongest components in an admission decision and testing can cause a bit of anxiety, so I think it’s really wonderful that it’s test optional and a student is able to focus on other pieces of their application.”
Rowley expects colleges to take into consideration the context of a student’s application. If a student does not take the SAT or ACT, it should not “hurt their chances” of getting into the colleges they apply to.
“Grades in classes are really important. You might have AP scores or you might have an SAT subject test, but keep in mind that those are an added academic indicator if that’s a positive score for you,” Rowley said. “They’re not going to make or break an admissions decision. Your overall classes are more important.”
Some students are disappointed by not being able to present their scores to colleges that no longer accept SAT and ACT scores. Junior Jessica Smiler took the PSAT in her sophomore year and was looking forward to taking the SAT in the spring of her junior year.
“To my surprise, I got a pretty good score on the PSAT, and ever since then I’ve been counting on taking that,” Smiler said. “Good grades matter too, but I was hoping to have my SAT score to show colleges as well. The fact that it’s not going to count is a little disappointing.”
Although some students may feel dismayed, some students, like junior Jennifer Li, feel more calm going into the admissions process because the SAT and ACT may no longer play a vital role in their application.
“I’m not as stressed as before about the SAT because I know that if I don’t do well, it won’t be a big issue since many schools are no longer requiring it,” Li said. “I think the biggest benefit of the cancellation is that it allows colleges to assess students on their actual intelligence and hard work because the SAT really doesn’t reflect either of those.”
In lieu of presenting their strengths through the SAT or ACT, Rowley believes that juniors can showcase their strengths in other areas of their application. Colleges will take a “closer” look into a student’s grades, academic achievements, awards, extracurriculars and personal essays.
Rowley believes juniors should take their college preparation “one step at a time.” She does not want juniors to “panic” over conditions that are out of their control. Those conditions include an increase in SAT and ACT requirement cancellations.
“College can be stressful and feel overwhelming, especially when you add a pandemic in the mix. As best as you can, focus on what you can control,” Rowley said. “Testing is such a small component of the larger college application. If you can spend more time on researching colleges for the right fit, meeting with admission counselors, meeting with your counselor and boosting your resume, you can really show some strong college applications and still have amazing options.”