As high school seniors and recent college grads begin their college or grad school planning, one question I am getting from clients is, “What about the SAT/ACT? Do I have to take it?” or “Should I take the graduate exam?” Although the College Entrance Exams (SAT & ACT) or any number of Graduate Entrance Exams, (GRE,GMAT,LSAT,or MCAT anyone??) are not exactly extinct, the current environment has crippled the industry’s ability to schedule the tests and many colleges and grad schools are suspending the requirement for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
On the undergraduate level, colleges have been stepping away from requiring SAT or ACT test scores as part of the admissions process and making them optional for over the last 10 to 15 years or so. In addition, each year colleges and universities are dropping the requirement all together. This trend has been a reaction to accusations that the tests are racially and socio-economically biased. Enter COVID-19 and starting last Spring the College Board, which offers the SAT and ETS which offers the ACT, have had to cancel close test sites and cancel tests.The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest.org) states the two-thirds of US colleges and universities are test optional or test-blind for fall of 2021 applicants.
Similarly the many graduate schools have also decided to suspend the requirement to submit graduate exams as part of the graduate school admissions process for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
There are exceptions of course, especially in some competitive fields such as nursing, both on the undergrad and grad level.
If the undergraduate college or university graduate program to which you are applying is test optional, before you make your decision regarding scheduling your test there are a few things to consider.
- Do you or a family member have a health issue that makes you at risk for contracting COVID-19?
- Is the college test optional?
- Is the college test-blind? Meaning, if you take and submit your test scores will they be included in your application review or not?
- If students take the exam and you don’t, will you be at a disadvantage?
- What are the safety precautions being taken at the testing site?
- If you don’t take the exam, what can you do to strengthen your admissions application?
For a list of colleges that are test optional go to: https://www.fairtest.org/