June 26th, 2020
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I will be a senior in high school this fall and have questions about taking the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests. I plan to apply to several top colleges for graduation in 2025. As I understand it, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many testing sites are either closed or have limited openings. I have also heard that a number of schools are dropping the standardized test requirements for the class of 2025.
What are your thoughts?
amid COVID-19 precautions
The College Board (owner of the SAT) has rejected offering the test online, and many students, parents and guidance counselors are facing the unusual problem of not knowing what to do regarding the tests. The situation is fluid so you will have to check your application list to determine what the test requirements are for your college choices on a school-by-school basis.
Harvard came up with a solution recently by dropping the requirement for subject test results and Advanced Placement test scores for the class of 2025. This is a temporary solution that applies only to the class of 2025, and the Boston Globe reports that Harvard applicants who do not submit scores will not be disadvantaged. "Their entire application will be considered." A Harvard spokesperson said that students “are encouraged to send whatever materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future.”
Some went further than that, with leaders of the University of California system voting on May 21, to phase out the SAT and ACT as an admissions requirement over the next four years. Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania do not require SAT subject tests for admission saying that they are recommended but not required. Yale and Brown still require them as do Stanford and other highly selective colleges on the West Coast.
The College Board, which administers the SAT, said on May 12, that it supports colleges “that are rightfully emphasizing flexibility for the admissions process for next year” and noted that their organization’s “responsibility is to ensure that every student has the option and the opportunity to take the SAT.”
According to the New York Times, “the easing of test requirements comes as education reform groups have criticized the SAT and ACT, which they contend give wealthier students an advantage because their families can afford expensive prep exams. “
There are many uncertainties in the college application period given the status of the virus and admission requirements impacted by lower enrollment in the number of applicants.
Currently the test dates for the 2020 SAT and SAT II Subject Tests are: August 29, September 26 (SAT Subject Tests not offered on this date), October 3, November 7 and December 5. I urge you to keep checking on these dates because things are evolving.
If you decide to take the tests, and I would urge you to do so, here are a few pointers:
Studying for the SAT will get you better scores than you would have gotten without studying. The key to understanding the SAT is that it doesn't necessarily test your high school knowledge. It is more like an IQ test. It asks theoretical questions not based on prior knowledge. You must glean information from a given set of facts in much the same way as you are required to do on law school examinations. This is called convergent vs. divergent reasoning. It is not how many possible answers can you come up with but arriving at the single right answer!
The interesting thing is that the answer that is almost correct is agonizingly close to being correct. There are nuanced pieces of information that are easy to miss. Not everyone has the ability to score a perfect score, but everyone can improve their score through concentrated preparation. The more you prepare the better you will score. My advice is to take a prep class.
Study like your future depends upon it. It may very well. Remember that you are in a race with other thoroughbreds and cannot afford to waste time.
Good luck and make sure that you keep current with news from the College Board and the schools of your choice vis.a.vis test requirements.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
Tags: Colleges SAT Preparation
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