Waiting to take a standardized test is not easy under normal circumstances, and this year it is simply wacky. Hopefully, you have read the latest college.u post “Mining for Test Scores in 2020,” describing some of the testing options for the class of 2021 to consider. In that post, “You are More than a Standardized Test,” highlights that colleges look at more than test scores when assessing applicants, and this certainly will hold true this application season. Paying close attention to how testing is unfolding in 2020 and continuing to discuss options will be part of the application work for students and families. In that regard, there is little doubt that questions like “should you be flying or driving to another state to take a test?” have started to percolate as testing companies sign up students for test-sites using a 300-mile radius. In the past, traveling to a test center based on timing, location, or wanting a more organized and efficient test site was a viable option. In 2020, additional questions should be on the table when determining if you should sign up for a test-site farther from home:
• What steps will the test-site implement to ensure health and safety for students taking a 3+ hour test?
• Does the location involve an overnight stay that will work for you and meet your health requirements?
• Do the schools you are applying to require test scores or have they moved to legitimately being test-optional?
• Do you have other scores that a school would like to see, e.g., AP, IB, or possibly PSAT, PreACT, or TOEFL scores?
Of the 1450+ schools that have moved to a test-optional policy, 440+ schools have signed on to NACACs' statement that “test-optional means test-optional.” Those that have not signed on are still deciding whether to go truly test-optional, or instead actually want scores despite having a test-optional policy. While you can expect to see updates in the weeks to come, the key is to go to the source. Contact the admissions office to determine if the colleges on your list are a “wink” or genuinely test-optional. Applying to college is a two-way street – colleges need information about you and you need information about them. Understanding a school’s test-optional policy is another way for you as an applicant to assess how schools think about students.
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