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I recently answered this question for a popular news outlet, 'What’s different in college admissions now, then just last year or many years ago?' On the same day, a client asked, "With all of the colleges going 'test-optional' should my teen bother taking the ACT or SAT?"
There are a lot of weird things going on in the age of COVID and those weird things do have an impact on college admissions.
I want to talk specifically about taking the ACT and SAT exams. These are the high stakes exams that have been in place for decades!
Parents are under the mistaken impression that all colleges and universities have gone ‘test-optional’.
But what IS test-optional and why should you care?
Test optional in college admissions is an option the student has to submit or not submit their ACT and SAT scores for college admissions decisions. What they are saying is that if the student chooses to not submit their test scores, the college will use the rest...
Most often the idea of taking college entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT is not introduced until the spring of high school junior year. The theory behind waiting until that time says that (1) the student is unprepared for the content and (2) taking the exams at an earlier age causes undue stress and anxiety for the student. However, my experience is very different.
Clearly students are not expected to perform well when taking these exams prior to Junior year. But that's the point. Tell your teen, 'Don't stress. It doesn't count'. Taking it multiple times, 'cold' (with no preparation), allows the student to get used to the format of the exam as well as the learning to ignore typical test taking distractions. For example: pencil or foot tapping noises, sneezing or coughing, rain on a tin roof. They also learn what items to bring and how to handle the broken pencil point, or calculator battery dying, in a low stress environment.
I recommend taking the ACT (or...