In light of the recent ACT, SAT, and SAT Subject Test cancellations by the College Board and ACT Inc., many juniors are wondering what will become of their standardized test scores. Though the College Board has said that it will add more testing dates starting in August, and that they will run every weekend, this may not be enough time for some students to get the test score they desire. Furthermore, the College Board has not released any information about makeup SAT Subject Tests, which are recommended by some colleges. This element of uncertainty is just another stressor for juniors getting ready to apply to college.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel, however. Many colleges realize that this obstacle could deter students from applying if they think that their scores will not meet admissions standards, so they’re getting rid of their SAT/ACT testing requirement for the class of 2021. It’s not just any colleges, either. Some of the new test-optional institutions include Tufts, Northeastern, all of the University of California colleges (there are nine!), Boston University, and even Cornell University. Around 50 colleges have waived test requirements as of April 15th. A group of students created the hashtag #TestOptionalNOW, and these students are petitioning for every college to become test optional for the class of 2021. This is unlikely to happen, especially in extremely selective schools like Harvard or Stanford, but a majority of colleges could definitely join the trend.
What does this mean for college applications? We have known for a while that test scores and GPAs aren’t everything. With Quarter 4 at Marblehead High School now pass/fail and fewer standardized test scores being required, colleges will rely even more heavily on essays and activities that show an applicant’s personality and ambition. This is called “holistic admissions,” a term that one becomes very familiar with after watching a few college information sessions. It means that instead of focusing on statistics alone and viewing essays/letters/activities as less important, admissions officers take a look at the student as a whole.
With the school year now finishing online, we juniors have a lot of extra time on our hands. Instead of binge-watching Tiger King, maybe research a few colleges that you’re interested in, or tool around on Naviance. It won’t hurt, and it’s always nice to have information on hand when your family interrogates you about college over Zoom.