To Test or Not to Test: How COVID Changed the SAT and ACT

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Since COVID cancellations made it so difficult for students to test last year, many colleges and universities stopped requiring an SAT or ACT result for admissions. Many of those changes are here to stay for students applying for the freshman class of 2022.

Submitting test scores is now optional at many schools. You can see a full list here.

The following admissions factors may now hold greater weight:

  • Grades in college prep classes
  • The strength of the curriculum
  • Admissions essays
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Recommendation letters
  • AP/IB test scores

So should your high schooler take the SAT and ACT?

Test-Required, Test-Optional, and Test-Blind Changes from COVID

Colleges and universities now fall into one of three different categories:

  1. Test-Required – These schools will require students to submit an SAT or ACT score with their application.
  2. Test-Optional – Students can choose whether or not to submit a test score. While not submitting a test doesn’t hurt, submitting a good test score can help. Most students choose to test. Then, they decide whether to submit the results based on the strength of their application with or without them.
  3. Test-Blind – These schools won’t consider test scores at all, even if they’re terrific. They’ll just focus on other factors.

The specifics of these policies can vary from school to school, even within one state, so it’s important to look into the guidelines for the schools on your child’s list.

In Georgia, public universities didn’t require test scores for admissions in 2021 because of COVID, but they will go back to requiring standardized test scores for 2022 enrollments.

In Virginia, many schools are extending test-optional policies through 2022. UVA is test-optional, along with Virginia Tech, James Madison, George Mason, Christopher Newport, and William & Mary.

Our admission review process is based on a comprehensive, holistic approach that considers multiple factors in making decisions. A test-optional policy provides students with additional ownership in the process by allowing them to decide whether or not they wish for SAT/ACT scores to be included as part of their application review.

William & Mary Admissions

Should My Child Take the SAT and ACT?

Unless every school on your child’s list is test-blind (which is unlikely), they’ll want to at least take the test— but they don’t need to automatically report their scores. We highly recommend that students should still study for and take the SAT/ACT.

Even schools that require SAT or ACT scores allow for “score choice.” This means the student can pick their best score from all of their attempts to share with schools. You can wait until your child is done with all of their test attempts and report only their best score to colleges.

What is Super Scoring?

With “super scoring,” the college will cherry-pick your child’s best sub-scores from each attempt. For example, let’s say your child takes the SAT and gets a 500 on math and a 600 in evidence-based reading and writing. They retake it, and the scores reverse. They get a 600 in evidence-based reading and writing but only a 500 in math. With super scoring, the school will take their 600 in reading and writing from the first attempt and their 600 in math for the second attempt. Their final score would become 1200, which is better than the 1100 they actually scored each time. 

A new change to the ACT is that the ACT will automatically super score. So if your child takes the ACT twice, colleges will only see their super score. With super scoring, testing multiple times can’t hurt and can only help. This is good to know because a small score increase can make a big difference and open up more options for a student.

Start Prepping and Practicing Now

With all of this in mind, it’s good to get the ball rolling on practice tests and test prep. 

Educational Connections offers proctored, virtual mock tests for the SAT and ACT on Saturday mornings. To get the most accurate results, we use official full-length tests published by the College Board and the ACT. Click below to register.

Mock Test Dates at extutoring.com for SAT and ACT

Read our next post in this college admissions series: The First Steps of SAT/ACT Test Prep.

Watch our parent workshop: SAT or ACT? Navigating the New Roadmap to College