Why you can and SHOULD wait to take the SAT

Today I learned of a family who flew with their high school junior 2,300 miles away to take the SAT a few weeks ago. While I know families who can are doing this, I find it absurd. The health risks, the (additional) pressure on your student to perform, and the investment of time and money to name just a few reasons…

This is usually a time when juniors would be planning/preparing to test. Please be aware that the role the SAT and ACT plays in the admissions process has changed during the pandemic; I’m not sure if things will ever return to how they were prior to 2020. So, please do not compare this year to past experiences of older siblings or friends. Colleges are adapting/changing and so should you.

Standardized test update:

The tests CAN wait. Most juniors take the test in the spring of junior year, even when things are normal. If testing remains closed (the college board has not successfully administered the SAT since December of 2019 anywhere between SF and San Jose), I think the college board will offer multiple dates in the late spring/summer/early fall to make up for the missed dates. Remember, this is a business for them too. In addition, colleges have been more flexible with allowing seniors to submit scores; and the longer you wait to take the test (generally) the better you will do.

Test optional is more common than not. Even before the pandemic, there were over a thousand test optional colleges in the country. Many schools who went test optional this year have already said they will remain test optional for the class of 2022.
The PSAT will be offered in January. While this is not used for college admission, it’s a great practice and can qualify you for National Merit Scholarships if you score in the top percentile (this varies by state).
Do not worry about SAT subject tests. Many schools have said they are no longer considering them, and taking the SAT/ACT should be your priority.
Focus on your AP/IB exams. These tests can be a great substitute for standardized tests in showing proficiency and mastery of subjects. We can talk more, but higher scores on these exams could be a great substitute for your standardized tests.
Test Prep can also wait. I know many of you are thinking of signing up for test prep classes that begin soon. I think prepping for test makes sense and there are tons of great resources available. I would not recommend starting any tutoring/test prep until test sites start to open up. There’s nothing wrong with taking a practice test or two and using free resources like Khan Academy to practice, but I would not invest the money in a tutor or class right now. The material should be fresh when you take the test. I have seen a lot of families this year invest a lot of money in test prep only to have to then do refresher courses. Tutoring can wait.

Also, keep in mind as more schools become or stay test optional, there is actually more pressure to score high. Unless you score in the top 20% of what the school’s SAT score is, you shouldn’t submit your test scores.

High schoolers have so much on their plate right now. They are persevering under extraordinary circumstances; there is no reason to add the pressure of standardized tests right now. As always, please reach out if you have questions!

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