It might seem like taking a standardized test is mining for fool’s gold these days. No matter how many times students register for tests in 2020 and think they have successfully scooped the “golden registration” into their pans, “poof” an email appears or a sign is posted on a test site door saying “Canceled.” What is the course of action for the remainder of the year? If you’re considering applying to Oregon State, you may have received an email boldly stating “Please don't test”,
or if you’re applying to Georgetown, you’re still figuring out how to get those subject tests that they still want to be done. 2020 is all about safety, patience, and flexibility, and this can be applied to testing plans. Above all, staying safe and not putting yourself at risk when it comes to taking standardized tests should be the first order of business, which will require patience and flexibility to see if testing sites (e.g., schools, College Board, and ACT) can ensure that happens. What is front and center is identifying which schools will genuinely honor their test-optional policies and which schools are still winking about what they want from applicants. Students have options still to control their test plans. Tolerating the unknown and waiting until Fall to see what test plan makes sense is one path. Moving away from being “test-centric” and leveraging all of your assets) is another approach, and underscores that a test score is one data point that in 2020 may not carry the same weight as in years’ past. Utilizing the test-optional path is a legitimate option. There may be a step or two to balance out that choice, such as writing an additional essay that addresses why the test-optional path has been triggered beyond the COVID/Pandemic obvious, so read the fine print. For students in 2020, “test-optional” may be the better path overall. Not sure how to decide? If you’re working with a college counselor, you most likely have a plan, but if you are unsure, check-in with them. Talk to your high school counselor to get their guidance. Even better, go to the source and ask the admissions team at the schools where you are planning to apply.
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