For Parents: Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process

The importance of standardized testing in the college admission process changes every year. And Admissions Officer, Angela Park-Pennington, is caught up with these changes! Join her as she will list out the standardized testing trends in the college admissions process. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 05/24/2022

Webinar Transcription

2022-05-24 For Parents – Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar For Parents: Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi, good evening everyone. My name is Angela Park-Pennington. Um, I am an associate director of admissions Um, I’m also a former admissions officer. Um, I, I served as an associate director of admissions, um, at the university of Southern California. I’m here in Los Angeles where I’m based and, um, I graduated from UC Berkeley.

Um, 12 years. Okay. Yeah. The math, um, several years ago. Um, so [00:01:00] tonight I’m happy to chat a little bit with you all about standardized testing, um, and all the different kinds of trends. There’s a lot of changes going on. Um, a lot to keep up with. So happy to chat with you all tonight about all of that.

Definitely. And real quick, we’re just going to do a quick poll. So what grade is your student currently in or rather, what grade are they going into? So eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other, and other can be if your student is a transfer student or taking a gap year, and while we wait for those responses to roll in Angela, can you tell us what is the main thing you emphasize to families?

Um, when you’re discussing standardized. The main thing I tell families is to make sure that you’re making the most informed decision for your personal situation. Um, there are so much that goes into testing with all the time, um, money, [00:02:00] effort, energy, stress that goes into preparing for a test practicing for a test.

Um, and sometimes it’s not always going to be the right fit or right path for you or that the decision that makes the most sense for you. Um, but it also depends on the other side of the table too, and the colleges that you’re considering. Um, so you want to make sure that you’re doing all of your research, all of your due diligence to see what’s going to make the most sense for you and your situation personally.

Um, and to put a lot of thought into us that you’re making the best decision, um, And then, yeah. So long answer to a short question. We’ll talk a lot about that tonight. Actually. Definitely. So it’s looking like we have 2% ninth graders, 12%. 10th grade is 72% 11th graders making up the majority and then 14% 12th graders.

And you can control it. Okay, well, great. It sounds like we [00:03:00] have a ton of juniors in the room, um, uh, families of juniors in the room and some underclassmen here as well, which is great because I do want to talk tonight about, um, sometimes the advice is strategizing is going to be a little bit different based on your grade.

Uh, just simply due to the fact that things are changing. Um, so I’ll start with talking about how different schools right now across the landscape of universities are approaching standardized testing and their decisions towards standardized testing. Um, and when I talk about standardized testing tonight, um, that’s just sat act, uh, not including, you know, AP exams, um, you know, IB tests, things like that.

Just want to be super clear that tonight we’re talking about, um, just the sat and act. So. In terms of test scores, test scores, um, you know, up [00:04:00] until recently up until the last couple of years have been a very common, um, and generally one part of the application requirement of the host of application requirements and one piece of the puzzle, um, when committees admissions committees are considering the overall evaluation of a student’s application and determining is this student going to be a good fit for our school?

Um, do we have, you know, confidence, fair confidence to say that this student will succeed at our school? Um, so generally in the past test scores have been considered as one of the predictors of, of potential success. Um, that being said there. You know, even prior to the pandemic and all of the changes that ensued thereafter, um, there have been many questions, discussions, controversy around, you know, the fairness and really the efficacy of using test scores as a predictor of potential success.

[00:05:00] Um, and have argued that, you know, maybe it’s more of a measure of, um, you know, access to resources, um, and also kind of creating a divide in equity as well. Um, so that being said, um, COVID 19. So there were already some schools that were starting to lean towards going test optional, or, you know, starting to lean away from using test scores as one of the more significant predictors of potential success, or one of the more significant, um, qualifiers on an application evaluation.

Um, the pandemic really sped that up, um, with COVID-19, you know, students not being able to access testing sites. Um, I’m sure many of you may have experienced this personally, or I’ve heard stories from, you know, uh, friends, um, you know, families in your communities of, you know, just a couple of years ago, students.

Ton of stress, anxiety, and kind of fear, you know, [00:06:00] what’s going on. I signed up for a test. I showed up and there’s no test happening. Or the night before they heard that the test was canceled, what does this mean for my application? You know, that was a, that was a really scary time for a lot of students and families.

Um, so, you know, given the, um, uh, the impact of COVID of COVID-19, uh, on many, many schools have now turned away from requiring standardized testing. We’ll talk a little bit, um, you know, uh, in the next couple of slides about how a school, different schools have made those decisions, um, and, um, and you know, what are their, what is the outlook of that over the next few years as well?

So many schools currently, um, are not making permanent decisions around, um, standardized testing. So there are some notable schools that have including the university of California school system. Um, but for the most part, [00:07:00] universities are doing what is called a pilot program. Essentially, it’s an experiment they’re saying, uh, between now and the class of 20, 24, we are suspending the application, uh, that test scores as part of the application requirement, you know, check back in with us in a couple of years or we’ll, you know, we’ll update you.

Um, but things are going to change. Um, so it, you know, right now they’re kind of experimenting with where we’re admitting students either test optional or without test scores at all. Um, and now they want to see how that plays out. And how are the students who were admitted and enrolled without test scores?

How are they performing at the school? Um, so they’re essentially trying to assess, you know, how valid, um, our test scores as a meaningful, uh, factor in the academic evaluation. Is it a true predictor of success? So test free, [00:08:00] um, or, uh, also known as test blind, test optional, um, and it didn’t fit on this slide, but there’s also test flexible.

That’s a little bit lesser known term, but I’ll talk a little bit more than that, more about that on the next slide. Um, but test blind, test free, um, and test optional are probably the most commonly, um, uh, co most common terms that you will hear. Um, so the first one tests free, um, is probably, you know, the, the is as much more, um, as much more.

Test scores are not considered at all. Um, not, not too many schools are going completely test free or score free. Um, many more schools are going to test optional route. They’re essentially leaving it up to you. The ball is in your court. If you want to submit squares, you can get it. If you do, if you don’t.

That’s okay. It will not be used against you if you choose [00:09:00] not to submit your score. Um, you know, they’re, they don’t, you know, differentiate the piles between the students who did submit a score and those who, whose didn’t and, you know, they’re reviewed, you know, in a different way. It certainly isn’t like that.

Um, if you are test optional, um, the focus then is on the other factors that are also included in your application, like your transcript, your academic rigor and performance, your extracurricular activities, your letters of recommendation, all those other things at our, um, you know, statistically considered stronger predictors of potential success.

So test flexible. So essentially it is test optional, but it comes with some conditions. So like I was saying earlier, um, at the beginning, um, of this conversation, You really want to do your due diligence with researching and investigating all of the schools that you will be applying to because many [00:10:00] schools have, you know, whether it’s clearly defined on their admissions website or you have to do a little bit more digging.

Um, but sometimes it will, it will look like, especially if you’re looking on websites that just do aggregate results, you know, which schools you’re Googling, which schools are test optional and it’ll come up with a bunch of results for you and you kind of go off of that. Um, but then you’ll find out later, oh, actually it’s only test optional.

If you meet this minimum GPA or it’s only test optional. If you’re applying to this program, Um, at the same school, but if you’re applying to this other program, then you do have to submit a test score. Um, some schools will also say, you know, if you submit an AP test score, you know, with the minimum score of, of, you know, X, Y, Z, um, then we’ll allow you to, you know, not submit a test score.

So there can be some conditions, um, around that, you know, test a test score, [00:11:00] um, uh, uh, parameter. So definitely, definitely do your research. One big example of this, this is taken directly from Cornell’s website. So as of now, all of the schools in the Ivy league are test optional, um, for the next couple of years.

Um, but you’ll see here that it says colleges and schools at Cornell that are score free. And then below that colleges and schools at Cornell that are test optional. So. It’s pretty much half and half. There were four schools, um, um, that are score free and then four schools that are test optional. So this is for undergraduate programs.

If you are a student who’s applying to Cornell and, um, you are applying to a major that falls within the college of, you know, uh, architecture, art, and planning. Um, then you don’t have to worry about your score. If you’re applying to a school, a major in the college of engineering, um, then they are going to consider your test score if you, if [00:12:00] you choose to submit it.

Um, so you’ll, you’ll, you know, want to see if that’s going to be an option that you’ll want to consider for yourself. So just one example here of, you know, again, the reason why it’s so important to do, um, your investigation very thoroughly about not just the requirements, um, but about options that are available to you.

So one very common question that we receive, um, is how have these new policies around standardized testing changed the admissions landscape? Um, I think a lot of families now are feeling, or at least, you know, um, hearing from peers who have applied, um, to college and receive their results in the last couple of years.

Um, they’re hearing from families and they’re now go, if you’re now going through this process yourself with your own child, um, then, you know, I’m sure it causes a lot of anxiety. We definitely hear that, you know, with [00:13:00] the families that, that I work with as well, um, you know, with the kind of removal of that barrier to entry, uh, the removal of the consideration of test scores, you know, whether it’s test optional or test free, even if it’s test optional, you know, students are now.

Um, perceiving that, okay. If they are not going to, if it’s not going to be disadvantages does advantageous to me to not submit my test score, then why not? I might as well submit my application. You never know. You know, I feel like there are other things in my application that are really strong. I was not confident about my test score.

If they required one, I certainly would not apply because I’m going to de-select myself. I’m going to take myself out of the, out of the runnings. Um, because some students feel that much. Um, I guess I have a lack of confidence around their test scores [00:14:00] about the influence that they believe their test score would have on their admissions decision.

So because of these new kind of perceptions that students are having, um, students are applying to schools that they may not have chose, decided to apply to in the past. Schools are now receiving record numbers. Of applications as a result, it’s allowing, you know, as a result of that acceptance rates are, are decreasing as well, because that does not affect the number of open seats they have and the number of students that are able to admit.

Um, but you know, they’re now receiving, you know, thousands, literally tens of thousands, more applications than they did in the past for the same number of open spots. Um, that’s led to certainly more unpredictable outcomes hearing lots of stories of students saying, you know, out in the past, you know, seniors at my school who had [00:15:00] XYZ looking resume generally were accepted to this school.

Um, but you know, this year, it really wasn’t the case, you know, or I thought my, you know, My test my, uh, my application, my, um, my transcript, all the things that I did, I thought I was going to be a shoe. And I thought it was going to be really obvious that I would be admitted to this school based on, you know, this, the students I saw being accepted from my school in the past.

I was a better student than them, but they got in and I didn’t, you know, well, how does this make any sense? Um, so certainly much more unpredictable. Um, and you’ll also see it on the flip side as well. Some students saying, wow, I didn’t think I would get in. I, you know, I, I’m so surprised and I’m so happy that I, I was admitted.

So there’s a lot less, um, um, prediction that, you know, students can do that teachers can do. And that, you know, even asking the admissions industry as professionals, having worked with students for [00:16:00] years, um, in this capacity, um, we’re seeing a lot of kind of surprise. So naturally that’s also led to an increase in the number of schools that students apply to students are now a little bit more worried and thinking, well, you know, um, my friend’s sister, you know, we thought that she would get into XYZ school, but she didn’t makes me a little bit scared for myself now to cover all my bases.

Instead of applying to eight schools, I think I’m going to apply to, you know, 14 schools instead, or instead of applying to 14 schools, I’m going to apply to 20 schools. Instead, I feel like I need to cover all my bases. I need to cast a wider net. And, you know, that’s certainly the advice that I give to my son that we give to our students as well.

Um, because of that unpredictability, you don’t want to find yourself in a position where, you know, simply due to. Um, due to numbers, um, due to [00:17:00] maybe even luck, um, that, you know, you are not admitted to many schools that you apply to, um, or, you know, God forbid any of the schools you applied to, and it’s not a reflection of you.

It’s just a reflection of everybody that just the sheer number of students that apply to those schools. Um, you know, you want to apply to more schools than you may have in the past. Um, and other kind of by-product or, you know, consequences of result of these changes is that just like, which we saw in that example with Cornell, um, schools are now having more unique or individualized policies.

Um, this is leading to a much more complicated process for applicants, you know, before. And, you know, if you are in a family where you had an older sibling apply, you know, a few years ago, um, and you know, in your conversations with them, you’ll, you’ll see that the experience is quite different now. [00:18:00] Um, you know, before it was quite straightforward, you’re signing up for an account on the common app or an account on coalition.

You know, you load up the schools that you’re choosing to apply to. You put, you enter the essays that you’re planning to submit. You kind of just go through the motions of following the directions on the website. Now there’s a lot more, um, you know, uh, investigation and research that is on the response.

That’s the, the responsibilities on the shoulder of the student, that the applicant, um, to make sure that you are following all of the instructions and to understand that it’s not going to be even within the Ivy league or even within a certain family of schools, um, or, you know, um, uh, th the, the rules can be very, very different.

The policies can be quite different. Um, so definitely make sure to, to, to do all of that research. So, if you are only applying to test optional schools, you might be thinking, [00:19:00] should I even bother taking the test? Should I even waste my time studying, preparing for the sat or the act? You know, if they’re not going to be requiring it, then I might as well not do it.

Um, so you know, the answer to this question, it, it really, really depends. Um, you know, and for underclassmen, if you are in ninth grade or 10th grade now, um, obviously things may change in the next couple of years before you have to submit your application, but I will say, um, don’t necessarily put it out of your mind.

Um, at least for now think just assumed that you will be taking it and create a plan to prepare. And I say that because most of these pilot programs, like I said, a lot of colleges right now just have a short-term plan of how they’re, how far their policy applies. It’s usually only for two years out, maybe three years out.

Like I said, they’re trying to do an experiment of seeing, you know, how the admitted students without test scores, [00:20:00] perform before making a longer term policy decision or even a permanent one. Um, so you’d never know the policy that exists now may not apply to you in the future. So just to have a plan for preparation, if you end up not taking it later, then that’s okay.

You’re better to be over prepared than under. Um, in general, if you’re applying to a test optional school, um, and you have a strong test score that you choose to submit with your application, it can certainly help your application. Um, you know, uh, if you are, um, somebody who feels like, you know, test taking is not for me, whether it’s standardized testing, whether it’s sat or act or whether it’s just like testing, taking exams at school or the AP exams, um, I’ve just never had a good experience with it.

I get a ton of anxiety, you know, everything I studied just leaves my [00:21:00] mind and I’m, I, I just, I don’t feel confident about testing if you’re a students like that. Um, then you know, this is something that you’ll probably want to spend quite a bit of time really thinking about. And, you know, don’t make this decision so easily and say, oh, I’m not a test taker.

So cross that off the list. Um, you definitely don’t want to make that decision. So like, The reason I say that is because even if it’s a test optional school, um, at the first kind of, um, uh, evaluation, which is for admission, um, some schools, you know, certainly maybe require it or at least lean heavily on it for other pieces, including scholarships.

Um, if you would like to be considered, or if you’re planning to be considered for an honors college, um, participation in certain special programs on campus, um, some schools will have different policies for if you’re applying to a school as an out-of-state applicant, um, or even an international, um, then you know, [00:22:00] those policies can always vary.

Um, so again, make sure that you’re researching to see that whatever policy you’re looking at applies to you specifically, and it’s not just the blanket one for the school. Um, If, you know, you are a strong test taker, absolutely take the test. Um, it’s going to be, even if it’s not a, um, as strong or as important of a factor as it was in the past, it’s still one extra data point in your application.

So feel, feel confident about your test taking skills and you feel confident, um, that, you know, your test score, um, can help your application then absolutely submitted. I would say that it’s worth the time and energy, um, you know, to, to prepare for the test, um, in order for it to be included in your evaluation.

So naturally, um, the second part of that question, uh, is how can students [00:23:00] stand out when applying to school. That are test free or test blind, you know, uh, this, uh, one of the factors of evaluation have now been removed. So how are students, how are schools really identifying the students that would be a good fit, um, and, uh, a potential, you know, a success story at their university.

So definitely taking college level courses. So that’s going to be your AP classes. If your school is on an IB program, then taking the AP level courses, um, to, uh, show or, or community college, um, courses, if that’s an option for you, if that’s something that’s accessible to you, um, absolutely will demonstrate your ability to, um, keep up in a college level academic environment.

Um, so obviously you want to take classes that you’re. Um, that are going to help your applications. So don’t take a, uh, [00:24:00] an AP class or a community college class just to have it on your transcript and then really, really struggle through it or cause your other grades to suffer because of the demanding nature of the course, make sure that you’re balancing out your entire, um, uh, core schedule to make sure that you can still keep up your academic performance across the board.

Um, so you know, a lot of times students will choose to take community college courses because their school maybe has some restrictions against, uh, um, you know, you can only do. Um, this number of AP courses at our school, or you can only start taking AP classes as a junior. Um, so some schools will have those types of restrictions.

So that’s certainly one way to get around that. Um, and, and for community college courses as well, uh, you, um, you know, have some time between, you know, day one of the class we’re saving the syllabus, kind of getting a, uh, a lay of the land of [00:25:00] what that class is going to look like and how difficult it may be.

Um, and, you know, sometime before you can drop it without appearing on your transcript. So I always encourage students to, within that kind of window of time to speak with the professor, um, really under, like, take a look at the syllabus, understand, um, the demands of the course before kind of walking yourself into that class.

’cause, you know, getting a C in a community college course is not going to really help your application. So you want to take these more advanced, more rigorous classes and perform well in them. Like if that is the key, when it comes to extracurriculars, that absolutely is a huge factor in your application as well.

So put yourself in the shoes of a student at w okay. What is your dream school think about that dream school. Think about your dream program, their dream college experience. Um, you know, maybe it is, um, Studying architecture at Cornell it’s [00:26:00] at the top of my mind, because we were looking at that slide earlier.

Um, so put yourself in the shoes of a student that, you know, you can see, you know, really succeeding in that program. Um, you know, what are they doing? And, uh, and you don’t have to imagine this so much. You can actually go into the website and see what some of their current students are doing, what some of their alumni.

You know, um, have done in the past, um, you know, you can always reach out to the admissions office or to, um, different communities online, um, to see, you know, how can I connect with a, with an alumni from this specific program? And if you are in, um, uh, our CollegeAdvisor program, then you have access to are the advisors in our network as well, who maybe have alumni, um, and talk to them about what they did and you know, also what they are doing in the program currently.

Um, and, you know, uh, try to not necessarily do exactly what a Cornell student is doing in their current [00:27:00] architecture program, but start thinking about what can I do to prepare, um, What can I do to have some experiences that I think will help to prepare me best that will show the admissions committee that, oh yeah.

If we admitted, you know, um, this student into the Cornell architecture program, then, then clearly they’re going to succeed because they’re already doing, you know, some snippet of it, something very similar to it. Um, so you definitely want to show that you have the ability you have the capacity, you have, you know, the creativity, the, um, solution oriented kind of problem solving thinking.

Um, so you wanna, you want to show that in your extracurricular. So think beyond, you know, just kind of joining clubs that are available to you on campus. Think about how you can be different from not just everybody else at your high school, but you know what most students who are applying to this program, um, might be doing.

So, uh, [00:28:00] definitely another very common question received is what’s a good score to submit, you know, um, if I get to this score, should I submit it at all? Or, you know, what score should I be aiming for? So there are some, some general schools of thought around this. Um, I think if your student’s score kind of falls within, um, the middle 50% range, uh, and this is going to vary obviously from school to school, um, then I would submit that score with confidence, and I think it’s going to help your application because it’s, it’s it, the data is showing there that from the past cohort that they just submitted, the past class, we just submitted, that is the range of test scores that they saw and were successfully admitted into the program.

So, um, I think a lot of students will, um, uh, find that, uh, those test scores. Um, can, you know, for some, for some students they’re going to say, okay, I feel pretty confident. I find [00:29:00] I fall kind of squarely within that range or for some students that’s going to mean I’m going to try it a second time. Maybe a third time.

I think I can raise it a few points that can fall more squarely within that range. Um, you know, uh, whatever that means for you and whatever it means for this, this specific colleges that you’re applying to, uh, it’s going to vary. Um, but that can be a good kind of, um, range for you to be, to be aiming for.

And again, that’s going to vary based on your individual college list. Um, and how do you find this information? Um, oftentimes it can be on the college’s website. Um, sometimes it’s not so easy to find. Um, but there is a great website that I like to use called and I C H Um, and it’s essentially a website that aggregates a ton of.

Um, university, uh, information, um, test scores being just one of them. Um, but if you’re looking for other [00:30:00] stats too, um, they will, you know, kind of compile those for you. Um, obviously, you know, you can look on Google, if you would prefer to use a different website. That’s just what I like to use because it’s easy.

Okay. Next. So looking ahead, um, the outlook for standardized testing is that. Unfortunately, it’s not going away. Um, you know, things may change. Um, but for the foreseeable future, at least the future that applies to you. So the next three to four years, um, it’s very likely that it’s not going to go away maybe in 10 years, maybe in 20 years, we will be like, what CSA T we won’t even exist anymore.

Um, but unfortunately that’s, that’s going to take a little while. Um, so as far as it applies to you, um, like I said earlier, just plan to take it as if you were an undergrad, um, started taking some practice tests to see, you know, [00:31:00] uh, what, what does sat test looks like? What an act test looks like. If you’ve never seen one before many free tests, online practice tests online, um, and then, you know, give it a, give it a genuine effort.

Um, you know, Upper undersell yourself and think, okay. You know, like I know I’m not a good test taker. I know this is not going to be something I want to do. I don’t want even want to put the effort. I don’t want even to start this path. Um, so I’m just going to opt for going the no testing route of test optional.

Um, really give it a genuine effort because at the end of the day, If it’s the one thing that helps boost your application to an admin, you just never know if it’s going to end up being that one thing. Um, so when it comes to, you know, uh, trying to decide if this is right for you, if test, if taking a test is right for you, you do want to think about, especially for the juniors in their room, maybe some of you have taken the test once, or maybe you have been [00:32:00] kind of trying to decide.

And now you’re in that final stages of needing to decide. Now whether you’re going to sign up for one of the last couple options of test dates, um, you know, think about, is this going to be, it’s going to take a lot of time to prepare yourself for the test. Um, And is it going to be worth? Is it going to be worth that time and energy?

Can your time and energy be better spent on an extracurricular activity where you can, um, better contribute impact to your community, that you’ll be able to describe on your application and that’ll be your differentiating factor that sets you apart from other students. Um, if it takes you 20 hours to study for the sat or 50 hours, let’s say, um, to take it once or twice, is that 50 hours going to be better used towards starting a nonprofit, joining, you know, a community service program and making some really, really solid impact.

Imagine the difference you can make in 50 hours. [00:33:00] Um, so you want to think about those things and those are questions you want to ask yourself. Um, you know, other questions that you want to weigh, um, you know, uh, are going to be. Do you feel like your, um, your, your transcript really reflects your academic abilities?

If you feel like you’ve had every opportunity in the last, uh, in high school, to be able to take all of the, you know, AP or advanced courses possible that are often offered to you, or if you feel kind of like, Aw, man, I wasn’t able to take as many APS as I would have liked, or I wasn’t able to take this community college class.

It just didn’t work out with my schedule. Do you feel like taking the test score is going and, you know, taking the test and receiving a higher score is going to help, you know, convince an admissions committee that yes, my academic abilities are strong and are to be trusted. Um, you know, those are, those are other questions that you want to ask yourself as [00:34:00] well.

Um, and then. But before we go on. So one last thing, um, is just, you know, really to, um, take a, take the practice test, um, that, you know, really gives you a good insight into, you know, even the difference between between the act and the sat, if you are not really sure about that difference. Um, then, like I said, lots of free practice tests online.

Um, it is a three hour commitment, but I think, you know, you kind of owe it to yourself, um, to give yourself that six hours total, maybe knock it out in one weekend to take both tests and say, you know, I felt pretty confident about this one versus that one. I think I’m gonna, I think I’m gonna, you know, really, um, go in this direction and invest my time and energy into the act.

And I’m gonna study for this one and I’m going to [00:35:00] take it. You know, we’ll try to schedule enough time in between that. I am able to take it twice, something like that. Um, but, but, you know, uh, allow yourself, um, that the opportunity. So don’t kind of discount yourself and take that opportunity away from yourself.

I really think, you know, doing, um, so a couple of things I said tonight was to definitely research, um, the policies of all the schools that you’re looking at, um, all of the fine print to the different majors and programs that might have different policies. Um, what applies to you and your situation specifically, um, and then, you know, asking yourself kind of the questions of, is this going to make sense for you?

Is this going to help your application? Um, and then yeah, giving it a sincere effort of taking a couple of practice tests to see, you know, what’s going to be a better, a good fit for you. Uh, what makes the most sense for you? Cause they already, you know, slightly different. Um, some students perform better on one than the other.

Um, and then. Take taking one test, [00:36:00] um, seeing how you do, um, and then it’s genuine. That’s the genuine advice that I think helps the student help students the most in preparing for standardized testing is taking a bunch of practice tests, you know, reviewing though that the areas of weakness from each round and kind of focusing on those areas.

Um, but, but really putting yourself in that testing environment, simulating it and, um, and taking the practice tests a bunch of times really does help. So don’t think that, you know, it’s, it’s a hopeless, uh, for, for you. I think some students may be surprised at how they fare, um, once you actually give it a shot.

So I think we’re moving on to QA.

Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the site from the link in the handouts tab, as well as review the recording of this webinar on our website, I apt out, [00:37:00] moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions.

You submitted in the Q and a tab and read them a love before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up. If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page. Also known as the website, cause you won’t get all the features of big marker through there.

So just make sure you join through, um, that custom link. Okay. So now for the first question, um, a parent is, or a student is asking, uh, how do we know if a test optional school will require scores for scholarships or for. That’s a great question. Um, if it is not easy to find on their website and they should list it on their website, um, then I would suggest contacting the admissions office so you can send them a quick email and, um, you know, let them know that I’m being I’m, I’m interested in XYZ program.

Um, you know, are you considering test scores [00:38:00] for this? Do you advise taking a test? A nice test? Um, so that’s definitely the easiest way to get the most accurate information. If it’s not easy to find that information on the website and believe me, I know some schools do not make it easy to find that information.

And, um, and unfortunately, sometimes, you know, and this is not, uh, no fault of the school, to be honest, we’re not trying to be intentionally, you know, Uh, in TPS or trying to hide the information. It oftentimes is that, you know, the policy gets made the policy changes and the website just does not get updated.

It’s not under the control of the admissions office. It’s usually the web, somebody else controls the website. So sometimes, um, even if it does say it on the website, I think it doesn’t hurt to contact the admissions office. Um, just to get a really, really clear answer on that. Definitely. And when I was working with my students, uh, for Spelman specifically, one of my [00:39:00] students, his interest posted, and it said it was optional unlike the admission requirements side.

But then when we went and read the part for the aid page, it said that, um, test scores were required if you want it financial aid. So sometimes it’s written in small print on a completely different page. So I’ll always check the admissions and the financial aid page two. That’s great going into the next question.

So a lot of parents and students are really worried. A lot of parents and students are really worried about, um, the upcoming years. So, um, a parent is asking, uh, my son is in grade, um, grade nine, um, when it says Tufts optional for 2024 applicants, does it mean those who are entering in 2024, are those who are putting in applications in November, December of, um, I think that would be 20, 23 if they’re graduating 20, 24.

Yes. This is [00:40:00] another thing that’s also really confusing because some schools will mean one and other schools will mean another. Um, wouldn’t it be great if all schools just got on some uniforms? Um, so generally I think the rule of thumb is to kind of consider it, um, as the class. 2024, if they’re saying that they’re saying a year, um, uh, if it’s otherwise, um, they will usually say like applying, you know, for, in the fall of, uh, in the fall of 20, 23 or the fall of 20, 24, um, they will, they will specify it like that again though.

Oh, sorry. I was just going to say, uh, again, it’s clear from the website though. Uh, wouldn’t hurt to just shoot off a quick email to the admissions office, if you’re, even if you’re emailing just the general email address and not a specific individual. Um, [00:41:00] in my experience college admissions offices, uh, generally do a pretty good job with responding to those emails, you know, within a few days.

Definitely. Uh, so going onto the next question, is there a preference for sat over act by certain colleges or vice versa? Um, certainly not. So if, um, if you are like, like I mentioned earlier, if you, if you, um, take the sat, you take the act and you decide, you know, one feels more right for you. Um, then one is not considered more advantageous than the other.

So, so certainly, you know, go with the one that feels more right for you. Definitely. I kind of going off of that. Can you talk a bit about the difference between the exams, whether or not, um, how a student can know which one they should take or if they should take. Um, so that’s a good question. I think my general rule of thumb advice is always going to be, um, it [00:42:00] doesn’t hurt.

Just take a practice test at home. It’s free. Um, just see what you like better. Um, there is some, I guess, accessibility component to that because I think sat tests sometimes can be a little bit more accessible. I think it depends on, you know, where you are, where you’re at. Um, but if it’s one of the things for you, then it didn’t just kind of figure out what what’s the best fit for you in terms of, um, big, the major differences.

The act has a dedicated and distinct science section. The sat doesn’t that does not mean that the sat does not have a science section. It’s just not a distinct one. There are some. Uh, questions that fall under a science category that are kind of dispersed throughout. Um, I think, um, there are, um, uh, for the act you can also choose to take, um, a version of the act that includes an essay option.

Um, that [00:43:00] is no, that is not the case for the SAP. So I think when you’re thinking about it a little bit more generally, um, some students will say, uh, some, some will say that kind of, uh, the, uh, overall kind of differences between the two is that the sat seems a little bit more of a test of, um, uh, are you a logical and kind of analytical thinker, um, and, you know, act may be a little bit more technical.

Um, so, uh, I think over the years the tests have kind of changed and I’ve honestly grown to be a little bit more and more similar to one of those.

Uh, for me personally, I took both. I prefer the sat just because the sections had a little bit more time on the exam. And I preferred having that extended time, especially what reading cause to it takes me time to read some [00:44:00] questions. So, um, that could be some thing to consider also in terms of like the actual structure and timing of the exams, uh, going off to the next question.

Um, a student, I, sorry, my wifi is like, okay. I can see the Q and a, if your wifi is cutting out, do you do, I can read the question too, if that’s better for you. Okay. Sure. I think I can. Okay.

Uh, okay. So another student is asking what would be considered a good sat score for schools such as UCLA or the IVs, and just in general, students are interested in what’s a good score for the top schools. Yes. Um, again, I think I mentioned this earlier, but you want to look at the school specifically. I think it’s a little bit difficult to say, like a blanket spread, you know, even within the IVs, the schools are different, especially within the [00:45:00] UCS.

The Rangers can be very different across the schools. Um, so definitely look at the specific schools that you’re applying to. Uh, very broadly speaking. Um, I think, you know, between, and again, that I think that the most difference is going to come from the UCS because some of the, uh, the spread across the, the 11 UC schools can be quite different.

Um, but if you’re falling between. Mid to high 1400 mid 14 hundreds to mid 15 hundreds. Um, I think that’s generally going to be a fairly confident, uh, score that you can feel fairly confident about. Um, I hesitate to say specific numbers, because again, it’s gonna depend on the school. Um, so go to or, you know, Google the school specifically, and you’ll be, you should be able to find those middle ranges, uh, going on to the next question.

Uh, could you explain the basic portion of [00:46:00] admissions decisions such as com um, components, which are, um, GPA essay, standardized tests, APS. So like, um, how much do are each worth, and then also to kind of combine this. Another student was asking in the pre panel. Um, if a school is test optional, do they still consider scores?

If it comes down to D to, um, equally qualified candidates, but one submit scores. Yes, that is a really good question. And, um, uh, the answer annoyingly is going to be, it depends because every school does their admissions evaluation differently. Um, there are schools that oftentimes your fate to can really be in the hands of an individual.

Some schools are doing committee committee-based evaluations. So, you know, your application may be read by two people, three people or more, um, it, the process really varies [00:47:00] across the board. Um, so those factors, and I see that question here in the chat box as well. Um, those many, many kind of factors of the application components.

So your transcript, um, which paints a picture of your academic kind of history and capabilities. So that’s going to be the performance in your classes and the rigor of the courses that you’re selecting. Um, and your extracurriculars, um, things that you have accomplished, the impact of the difference you have made in the communities, um, showing how you have, um, really, uh, become very curious about something and explore that curiosity, um, you know, uh, how you have managed to con convey your story.

And that story can be a ton of different things. It can be your, you can be, you know, your life story of who, how you became, who you are today. It can be the story of how you became interested in the major you’re applying to. It can be a story [00:48:00] of, you know, um, uh, of the impact that you’ve made in an activity.

So, uh, those are all kind of powerful components. Letters of recommendation are becoming more and more important as well. Schools are increasingly interested in who you are as a person, the quality of your character. Um, and you know, uh, the type of, um, community that you will contribute to when you’re on campus.

So absolutely they want to make sure that they’re admitting school students to their school who will succeed academically and make a difference in the world. Um, what are also going to make their campus community a better. And how did they do that? They, they fill their school with students who are, who are curious, we’re passionate, who are driven and independent and mature, um, and you know, uh, wanting to solve a problem, um, or wanting to learn more, wanting to connect with others.

So those are, you know, certainly qualities that admissions officers are looking [00:49:00] for and, um, search to, um, you know, uh, admissions officers are more and more spending more time looking at applications in order to kind of deduce that those are, um, certainly, uh, more subjective factors than just saying, for example, in the past, I’ve worked in admissions offices where I’ve seen individuals, you know, pull a spreadsheet of this, of the applications they were assigned.

Filter it by test score or filter it by GPA and kind of go down the line like that. Um, not, not, you know, the way that everybody does and not the way I would do it. Um, but some of that, the reality of, uh, of, you know, how kind of the landscape was was that, uh, it was very much an individual kind of approach at times.

Um, so that being said, you know, answering kind of the, the question that was submitted pre panel, you know, if you are submitting a school, a score to a test optional school and you know, what does it come down to the wire of student a and student B have almost identical [00:50:00] applications have taken very similar in the same number of AP.

I’m applying to the same major at the same school, have both received the same GPA, both have strong letters of rec and some really impressive extracurricular activities and achievements. Um, can the standardized test score be the tie breaker? Um, you know, I think that’s, that’s really going to. Uh, be a possibility.

I think that those tie situations, um, you know, can happen, um, with just the sheer volume of applications that are being submitted, it’s going to happen where some applications are quite similar to each other. And, you know, really, you know, schools do try to be as fair as possible in their assessment and try to figure out, okay, these two students, their applications are pretty similar, but they come from very different backgrounds.

You know, how many more hoops this student have to jump through in order to obtain the same GPA as that student. [00:51:00] Um, those are things that they’ll consider as well. Um, but you know, when it comes down to like, let’s say it’s a real situation where it’s almost identical situations, uh, or identical context for the students.

And one student has a strong test score and the other student has no test score. Who knows maybe that student who didn’t have a test score, if they had taken the test, maybe they would have tested well. Um, but they just chose not to take a test. Um, I, I think that the having one extra data point in those situations could be helpful.

And you just never know if your application is going to be in that tiebreaker situation. So I would say because you’d never know, that’s why I, I would recommend, you know, all of my students to at least try. Um, and then, you know, you take the test a bunch of times, you, you can’t get over, you know, a certain test score, no matter how, how much you’ve tried and how much you prepared.

Um, then that’s okay. It’s not for you. And [00:52:00] you’ll apply to, you know, schools that are test optional and, you know, we’ll, we’ll be a good fit for you in other ways. And testing is not going to be the end all be all. Um, it’s just that, you know, if you’re ever that situation where it’s student, a student.

Almost the same. Um, and one extra little data point could help. Um, why not? Definitely. And, um, yes, so making those applications really strong and really coming up with a strategic plan for tackling the admissions process is a very daunting process. And so that’s why we really advise for those who in the room who are already working with us.

Um, we recommend that you do join, um, CollegeAdvisor, our team of over 300 former admissions offices and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it on one-on-one advising sessions. Um, take charge of your family’s college admissions journey by signing up for a free 15 [00:53:00] minute strategy session with an admissions expert, using the QR code on the screen, by signing up with CollegeAdvisor, you get access to our wonderful resources, such as our financial aid team, uh, who can help you and your.

To really think about your financial situation, what opportunities scholarships, aid is available to you in your circumstances. Our college listing can really help to build a strong list of schools, um, that you all, um, you and your students feel really fit your needs and your wants in what you’re looking for in the admissions process.

And then just working with the advisor can really help with, um, assuaging some of these fears and some of these concerns that you may have as well as getting that application as strong as it can be for the application process and putting your best foot forward when you’re looking at your dream school or all of the other schools that you’re really interested in.

So please scan this QR code, um, to get that 15 minute strategy session. Now, back to the Q and a. So [00:54:00] another student is asking what if you have a high GPA, but a low act score after having taking it multiple times, would it be advisable not to submit your school? Um, I guess, you know, it also depends what, what you mean by a low score.

Um, uh, but if your score, um, is significantly below the, the, the range that is published by the school, um, I would probably choose to not submit it. Uh, it’s not going to really help your application. And if your transcript is already showing your academic capabilities, um, and your test scores almost contradict that, um, then I would choose to not submit it.

Remember you want your, your, uh, every piece of your application to, to be of help. Um, and especially for the standardized test score, if it’s not going to, um, fall within that range, uh, that suggested [00:55:00] range, um, then yeah, I would, I would say it’s probably not going to. And remember that colleges do sit test optional colleges do say that, um, if you choose to not submit your test score at a test optional school, it’s not, it’s not did that band is it’s not advantageous to your evaluation.

They’re not necessarily assuming because you did not submit a test score. They’re not assuming, oh, this person must have tried a bunch of times and gotten a bad, bad test scores. So they’re just choosing to not to hide it from it or choosing to keep it from us. That’s not really the thought process behind the college’s approach to test optional, um, policy, to test optional students.

Um, you know, really they are, uh, the, the, one of the main purposes behind test optional and going test optional was trying to resolve the issues of inequity and. So, you know, they’re really not trying to punish students from [00:56:00] not having the test score or not choosing to have a test score on their application.

Um, but they’re choosing to say, Hey, if you had the opportunity to take one and you think it shows us something more about you, then go ahead and, and, you know, share that with us. It’s absolutely not meant to punish those who do not submit a test score. Uh, going onto the next well, right before that, um, if you would like to find out more about our rates and what sort of packages CollegeAdvisor offers, I do recommend going to our or scanning this QR code.

I believe this 15 minute session is free, um, to just find out, um, about our different packages and plans and meet with someone from our team to find out more about CollegeAdvisor and get all of your questions answered before signing up. Uh, so yes, please do go to our website or scan this QR code to find out more information related to that now back to the Q and a, um, okay.

So kind of going off of that, I’m [00:57:00] taking the exam multiple times. Um, how many times should a student, um, take an exam? Um, the sat act. Sure. Um, I think most students who are, um, you know, seriously considering submitting their test score as part of their application, they generally take it two or three times, I think after three times, um, uh, it is not really effective for, uh, either improving the test score or, you know, just how the usage of a student’s time.

Um, but I do think that taking it more than once is helpful the first time, even if you’ve taken a bunch of practice tests at home, usually your first official sitting of a standardized test, it’s a little bit different. It’s, it’s quite nerve wracking. You know, you find that the time seems to race by a lot faster than it should be.

Um, so, you know, that’s why I do say try to simulate that testing environment at home, as much as you [00:58:00] can, you know, Put a sign on your door that says don’t come in, I’m testing for the next three hours. Um, you know, put your phone on, do not just return it off and, uh, and really try to, um, set a timer to each sections, timing restriction, um, so that you really kind of put yourself into that zone.

Um, that being said the first test time still always seems to be, um, you know, uh, kind of nerve wracking for students. And then by the time you take it your second time or your third time, most students do show a bit of a jump in the test scores. Um, even if it’s just a little bit, um, so, you know, that’s something that I do recommend and I think probably, you know, there are a small, you know, um, subset of students that may take it more than that.

Um, but you know, I, I’m not really sure if that’s the most effective use of your time to just continue to take it again and again, Yes. And kind of going off of that, um, one benefit that comes up a lot with taking the test [00:59:00] multiple times, um, is super scoring. Can you explain a bit more about that? Yes. I’m super scoring.

I think a lot of students are excited to learn about, um, essentially if you do take multiple sittings of the, um, of the standardized test, um, and you have, uh, different test scores, uh, different results each time from the different sections, you are able to choose the highest performing score across your different settings.

So let’s say you took the sat twice and the first time, you know, you, um, scored, let’s say you got the same score both times, you got a 1400 both times. Um, but the first time you got a higher score in one section and the lower score in the other section, and then the second time vice versa, um, then you can choose the.

The higher score from each section and then submit, um, individual scores instead of full, like one sitting [01:00:00] total scores. How do I explained that clear, uh, and each school has their own policy on that and you can find your on their admissions page and then kind of going off of that again with taking exams multiple times, that means paying multiple times.

Are there any ways for students and parents to parents specifically to cut costs on the exams? Uh, can you talk a bit about, um, eligibility for. Yeah. So that’s definitely one other piece to consider too. When it comes to taking the test multiple times, you know, the fees do start adding up. Um, if that means that you’re extending, if you’re taking an sat like tutoring or a PA or a prep class, and you’re extending that time now, because you decided to take it again in a few months, then that’s, you know, additional fees invested there.

Um, and the same thing that applies, you know, to numbers of students and numbers of schools. Now, students are applying to, you know, every school has. I would say a pretty [01:01:00] hefty application fee. So, you know, I think just prices and costs across the board are certainly going up. Um, if your family does qualify for a fee waiver, um, then that’s something that absolutely I would look into.

Um, you can find this information, um, on the college boards website, uh, generally when you’re registering for the test as well, there will be an opportunity for you to indicate that. And when more information shared there as well, um, But, you know, absolutely. If you have multiple children in the family who are applying, um, you know, who are taking tests, um, it can, it can certainly become, uh, really cost-prohibitive and cost restrictive to even try to, you know, think about taking the test multiple times or taking an sat class and whatnot.

Um, the CollegeAdvisor does have a partnership with method, test prep. Um, oh, were you about to tell him, tell us about that? Um, so for CollegeAdvisors, students, [01:02:00] um, we have access to, um, the sat or, um, uh, test prep services, um, uh, through method and it’s self guided. So you can take your own time to access all of their resources and practice tests and quizzes and whatnot to help yourself prepare.

Um, if you’re a student that, you know, uh, requires a little bit more. Hands-on coaching and maybe, you know, self guided is not for you. Um, then certainly, you know, look into local resources of, you know, tutors and in classes that can keep you more accountable. Um, but if you are somebody who does well with independent study and self guided study, I think it’s a wonderful resource that you can squeeze into, you know, whenever you have time available after all of your tests and or your courses and activities.

Definitely. And your school counselors should have some more info about the waiver. And, um, usually [01:03:00] if you’re on free and reduced lunch, um, at your school, you should qualify for the waiver. Some schools like my high school, even give students on, I think it was like two free sat and two free actsh. Um, I think it was because we were a title one school, it could depend.

Um, so do check with your school counselor to see what options are available for you. And then, um, as our webinar is coming to a close, is there any last minute advice or tips that you want to give to. Um, this is, you know, for students and parents, both just for families in this process. Um, I know it can be quite, you know, unnerving quite, um, you know, anxiety riddle to try to keep up with all of the different changes and trends and, um, you know, schools coming out with new policies all the time.

Um, so, you know, I would, where I would really, you know, work closely with, you know, either an advisor through CollegeAdvisor, um, or, you know, to stay really on [01:04:00] top of all of your planning, your, your college planning. Um, and that means to stay organized, have, you know, a spreadsheet with all of your college information that you’re applying to have deadlines, have policies.

Um, you know, you can start that early, but then in the fall of your senior year, when you start, or even before slightly before that, as you start really. I’m getting prepared to submit the application, you know, go through that list of colleges one more time and make sure that you are, um, you know, applying according to the latest policies, because those can change, um, check your email, uh, as much as possible, especially if you are on mailing lists from the school that you’re applying to.

Um, they’ll probably do a good job of trying to communicate with you. Those changes. I know your inboxes can get really, really full, but, um, you know, put, um, uh, you know, create a separate email address for the colleges that you’re applying to. Um, [01:05:00] yeah. And, and staying organized, staying on top of it is really how you’re doing.

Stay, you keep your head above water, as you’re trying to navigate all of the different deadlines, colleges, policies, requirements, all of that stuff. Um, so try to stay organized. And, uh, if you, again, if you work with a CollegeAdvisor advisor, then, um, they should help you manage that. And that’s, that’s a ton of help when you’re trying to juggle, you know, managing your school activities and college.

Um, I know it can be a lot, definitely. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our panelists, Angela. Uh, we had a great time telling you about, um, standardized testing trends in the admissions process. Here’s the rest of our main series on increasing your admissions odds, where we’ll have, where we have other webinars on, um, other parts of the application, um, texts of majors.

You should look into other webinars for parents, uh, as well as our upcoming webinars on first gen students, as well as, um, at, uh, admissions officers at [01:06:00] vice. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight. I have like a nine everyday.