Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process

Are you curious about the role of standardized testing in the college admissions process? Join us for a webinar on “Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process” where we’ll explore the latest developments and insights in this area.

During this webinar, you will learn:

  • The current state of standardized testing requirements at various colleges and universities
  • How the pandemic has impacted standardized testing policies and trends
  • Alternative assessment options that some schools are implementing in lieu of standardized tests
  • The potential long-term implications of the recent changes and trends in standardized testing policies

Admissions Expert Lydia will share her expertise and provide valuable insights on the role of standardized testing in college admissions. Whether you’re a high school student who will soon be taking these tests, a parent who wants to understand the admissions process, or an educator who wants to stay informed, this webinar is perfect for you.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in standardized testing. Register now to secure your spot!

Date 05/16/2023
Duration 1:01:26

Webinar Transcription

2023-05-16 – Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process

Hi everyone, and welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a senior advisor at CollegeAdvisor and I will be your moderator today. Today’s webinar is “Standardized Testing Trends in the College Admissions Process.” Before we get started, I just wanna orient everyone with webinar timing, so our presenter, Lydia, will share some tips, resources, and guidance, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions in a live Q&A.

On the sidebar, you can download our slides under the handouts tab and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab. Please only submit your questions through the Q&A tab. Please do not direct message or chat us. It gets a little distracting your presentation, but we will work to answer all of your questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet our presenter, Lydia. Hi Lydia. How are you doing? I’m doing well. How are you? I’m all right. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. Well, it’s great to see everyone here. So my name is Lydia Hollon. I’m also a Senior advisor with CollegeAdvisor. I’m really excited to be here.

As you can see here, I am an alum of New York University where I majored in Political Science for Bachelor’s and participated in the Masters in Public Administration program as well. I also have a background working in their admissions and advising offices. Additionally everyone able to hear me see in the chat, some people aren’t able to hear and folks aren’t able to hear.

They may have to log out. And for this particular format, you might actually have to cover over the screen and click start sound. That’s what I found for some folks in this new model of Big Marker. So if you’re not able to hear, it’s on your side. The sound is working on art. Okay. All right. Well again, so my background is at New York University bachelor’s in Political Science and Master’s in public administration, as well as a master’s in teaching from Graduate School of Education.

I also have a background as a high school English teacher where I worked at a Title one school in Newark, New Jersey for three years. And I’m now currently an education consultant as well as working here at CollegeAdvisor. So I’m really happy to be able to talk to you all a bit about how standardized testing is changing and how that’s influencing our college applications and how that affects you all.

Thanks so much for that introduction, Lydia, before I hand it over to you, we’re gonna do a quick poll. So let us know what grade you’re in. The options are eighth grade, ninth grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade, or other parents if you’re in the space. Please let us know there. Lydia, while we’re waiting, I’m wondering if you had a favorite food spot in New York?

Ooh, a favorite food spot. I would say that there’s a really good Indian place called Pana Two that I really like. Solange k Knowles is known to go there as well. So that’s a place I really miss. I actually don’t live in New York anymore. I’ve recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia, but I definitely miss the foodie culture of New York City.

So that’s definitely one place I would recommend if you’re ever in the city or touring schools in the area. That’s good. I haven’t heard of that place and I feel like I’m always looking for a good Indian spot. So the next summer I’m in New York. I’m gonna head that up. Separately, I’ll ask you what are good places to eat in Atlanta, but we’ll keep it moving on our poll.

So just so you have some context, context. Lydia, before we get started the majority of folks are 10th and 11th graders. About 30% are 10th graders, 20, 37% are 11th graders, and then we’re followed by our next biggest as this other, which I think as parents, about 19% and then 7% eighth and ninth graders, eighth and ninth graders.

You’re here very early. I’m glad that you’re here to get some early context, but also it’s okay. But we can move forward. I’ll hand it over to you, Lydia, as I know that people are long-term planning. So yeah, I’ll be back a little bit later. Yeah, I admire the ambition that I’m seeing here. Okay, so. We’re gonna start with talking about how schools are approaching standardized testing differently.

And the big thing that I think may not be much of a surprise to a lot of you is that Covid 19 definitely played a big way and how colleges and universities view the standardized testing process. So even prior to covid 19, there were a lot of universities and colleges that were really pushing for more equity in the college application process.

And part of that was rethinking the way that we look at standardized tests, because for a lot of students, they just are not as reflective as we would like them to be of a student’s capacity. I’m sure for the students that are in the chat and the parents, you may even have some personal experience. Feeling like standardized tests are not always reflective of your capacity or your child’s capacity.

As a student. So in CO during Covid 19, there was an even bigger push because not only were there questions about whether or not the standardized tests were actually a useful tool in terms of representing a student’s capacity to perform in the college space, but there were millions and millions of students across the country who simply were not able to take standardized tests that they normally would’ve been able to because of quarantine.

So as a result, multiple colleges and universities started rethinking whether or not it was really a necessary metric because there was not only questions about whether or not it could be a useful tool, but also there were questions about accessibility. Lots of students just literally not being able to take the test and time for college applications. So at this point more than 80% of four year colleges actually have, did not require standardized tests or are not requiring standardized tests for fall 2023 admissions. So what that means is not necessarily that colleges are saying do not submit standardized testing, but rather that they are saying that they are providing some sort of test optional test, flexible or test free sort of option for students.

So if you looked back 10, 15, 20 years, that is clearly a very, very stark difference between now and a decade or two ago when the majority of colleges that you would apply to it would be assumed that you would have to have some sort of ACT or SAT score to submit to colleges. So there’s definitely. A significant push and change that we are seeing across the college landscape to provide students with multiple ways to be able to demonstrate their intelligence and their capacity as a student beyond just submitting test scores.

So that may be good news for a lot of the students here who maybe are not the biggest fans of standardized testing or do not feel as confident in their test taking abilities or just don’t wanna have to worry about that as something that they have to do. In prep preparation for the college admissions process.

So as I hinted at a little bit earlier, so for the 80%, approximately 80% of colleges that are not requiring standardized tests for fall 2023, there are different approaches that schools are taking to kind of combat this inequity that people have been drawing attention to. That comes with standardized testing, which is the test free approach, the test optional approach, and the test flexible approach.

I’m gonna go a little bit deeper into what all of these different options mean in just a second. Okay. So the first one is the test free, or you may have also heard of this as test blind option. This is the one that I think sounds the most, like what it is or is the most self-explanatory. And this is essentially when a school not only.

Does not require that you submit a test score to them, but that they actually do not consider test scores flat out in a student’s application no matter what. So what that means is whether or not you got a 12 on the ACT or a 36 on the ACT, it will not be a part of. Your consideration for admission to that school, the admissions literally will not see your test scores.

They are tested blind, so it’s not even something of, oh, you send the 36 to the school and they are able to see it, but they just have to act as if they did not see it. You know, your admissions officer will literally not see that test score. It will not be a part of your admissions packet. This option, while it may sound really attractive, and for students who are maybe not the best test takers, this is obvious.

Obviously the most attractive kind of situation for those kinds of students, but it is not as common as the test optional that you’ll hear a lot of schools talking about. So less than about a hundred colleges offer this option. So again, test free means they literally do not consider it at all in the application or admissions decision.

It is not something that it is looked at. If you decide to submit test scores, really the only situation. Where your test score would be a factor at all is not in the admissions process in any way, but rather it may possibly be used for class placements. So for example, if you are a student who took, say, an AP test your test score is not going to factor into whether or not you were admitted to the college.

But let’s say that you are accepted to say UC, Berkeley, for example, and you submit your AP scores as a part of your application packet. It’s not going to play a role in whether or not you get accepted to UC, Berkeley. But it may help them make a decision about whether you should be in a remedial math class or an advanced math class or something like that because you got like a five on AP calculus BC or something like that.

I will I see the question about how. Schools decide. I will talk about that in just a little bit. About how we decide between students, if one student does not submit a test score. So for test optional, it’s similar to test free. It’s similar in the sense that a student still does not have to submit any sort of standardized test score in order to be considered for admission to that school.

So that’s what test free and test optional have in common. However, for test optional, the difference is that if you submit a test score to that college, it will be factored into your admissions decision. So what that can kind of create is a difference between students who choose to submit test scores versus students who don’t, even though in a test optional school, it’s not supposed to play a role.

And whether or not someone chooses or does not choose to submit their test score as a part of their application, it does. Create a difference because obviously a student who chooses to provide their SAT score, their AP score, IB score, and so on and so forth, is able to provide a bit of extra dimension to their application that a student who chooses not to submit those kinds of scores would not be able to.

So for a school that is completely test free, There’s truly no distinction that it could possibly be made between a student with a 4.0 at a school who has a 36 on the ACT, and a student with a 4.0 who got a 22 on the ACT because neither of them even has the ability to provide their test score as a supplement to their application.

For a school that is test optional, we would assume most likely that the student who has a 36 on the ACT would likely choose to submit their test score to that college. Meanwhile, student who gets a 22 on the ACT but has a 4.0, they are much less likely to submit their test score. As a part of their application to that college.

So by being able to choose whether or not you supply that test score, you are able to kind of emphasize your ability to succeed as a student. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a student who chooses to not provide standardized test scores, that that means that the admissions officer is going to assume that that score is bad.

But you can kind of put two and two together that students who tend to do well on standardized test scores would choose to provide it. So again, test optional. It makes things a little bit more complicated because they’re, we’re comparing students who choose to provide it and some students who choose not to, admissions officers are expected to only evaluate students based on the information that is presented in front of them.

Not to make conjectures on what a student is able to do outside of what we are presented. However, they’re a student who does not provide that additional information. Isn’t able to paint quite as full of a picture. The kind of comparison that I like to make is thinking about if you are applying to a job, for example, someone who is able to provide more examples of how they are successful in a specific responsibility is probably going to be able to illustrate confidence in that more effectively than someone who can only provide a small handful of examples.

But I’ll talk a little bit more about comparing students in just a second. So the last sort of example of how school schools have responded to the push to reevaluate how we respond to standardized test scores is the test flexible option. So this one, test scores of standardized test scores of some sort are still a requirement.

So it’s, it’s not quite the same as test optional or test free because you’re not able to completely avoid showing your capacity as a test taker in order to apply to the school. So an example of a test flexible school would be my, my alma mater, NYU. So in order to get admission to NYU, for example, you don’t necessarily have to submit your ACT or SAT score, but you do have to provide at least three AP or IB exam scores.

Right. So test Flexible allows a student who maybe doesn’t do so well on the ACT or SAT to show their capacity as a test, as a test taker in a different way by sh showing how they did well on a different sort of test. So this may be good for a student who maybe isn’t the best test taker overall, but maybe they are really good when it comes to STEM specifically, and they have good grades in general.

So test flexible would be great because they could take an AP calculus exam, they could take AP computer science and let’s say AP Chemistry or something like that. If they get fours and fives on all of those things, that may be a better option for them to submit to that school. Then I. It’s just submitting like a low ACT score or not submitting anything at all.

Because again, when we think about the perspective of the admissions officer, the more information, the more data that we are able to pull from when making an admissions decision, the easier it is to make that point. So when you provide that information from the AP exam, it’s easier to have more confidence that that student is able to perform in different kinds of academic settings rather than not submitting anything at all.

So test free, if we go back, there is no, not only no requirement of submitting test scores, but it’s also not going to be considered if you send them test optional, you can choose to provide those test scores, but it is not a requirement. Test flexible. You do have to submit some sort of standardized test scores, but there is flexibility in the kinds of test scores that you submit.

It does not have to just be the ACT or SAT to fulfill the requirement. So how do we know which colleges have tests free versus test optional systems? That’s a really great question. So one one way is just to go to the school’s website. That would probably be the best option, I would say, in order to figure out Where like which place to check and whether or not the school has those certain kinds of requirements.

Also, if you’re applying through the common app, you should be able to see if that’s something that they are expecting. Also, a website that I use a lot is fair They tend to have a l long list of what category different schools fall under. So for example, in preparation for this presentation, I did a cursory look on their website just to see exactly how many students still have a sort of.

Test free option for the 2023 school year. So definitely check the school’s website. I would say that’s the most reliable, especially if you or your student already has a short list of schools that they plan on applying to. And then if you’re just trying to figure out which schools might be a good option for you or your child, because you don’t have that list yet, but maybe you’re specifically looking to apply to schools that are test for your test optional because you don’t feel that confident about the ACT or SAT score that you have, then I would recommend going to to help figure out which schools might be a good fit for you.

Let me see if there are any other questions that might be relevant before I move on. You can move on. We’ll come back to the questions at the end. We have about 30 minutes. Yeah. Reserved for. All right, so how have test free and test optional policies changed the higher ed admissions landscape? So one major way is just an emphasis on holistic evaluation.

That was already something that I would say was a big deal prior to standardized testing. However, as you can imagine, if you are taking out a chunk of what we would previously consider a very large factor or somewhat large factor in deciding whether a student gets admission or gets consideration for scholarships and things like that, if you take that out of the.

Out of the running for deciding whether or not a student gets admission, it requires us to really think about the other factors that make a student a good student or not. So because of these test free and test optional policies, it really has required admissions offices to look at students across all factors of their application in order to decide whether or not they’re going to be the right fit for that school.

So that means rather than just thinking about the traditional GPA and SAT score, we’re also thinking about letters of recommendation. We’re also thinking about. Extracurriculars, how is the student challenging themselves, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom? I talked earlier about how admissions is really about trying to make a decision with all the data that you are being given without making assumptions outside of the data that you’re being given.

So we’re really trying to pull as much information as possible from every piece of data that we’re being given, especially if the student is choosing not to give us that additional information that comes from a standardized test score. So as I said, The, there’s a kind of a double-edged sword that can come with choosing, especially if it’s a test optional school rather than test free.

That can come with removing the information that can come from a test score, which means that every other aspect of your application is going to be looked at with a more critical eye. So if you go to a school, for example, that offers a large array of AP classes or IB courses, but you choose not to take them, that’s going to look be looked at a lot more harshly if we’re not getting the extra context from your standardized test scores than if you did provide a stellar ACT score, but you. For example, didn’t take every AP course that your school offered, right? If you don’t have a very high GPA and you also don’t provide your test score, but you have the option to, that’s something that might be looked at more harshly, because now we have very limited evidence to show that you can prove yourself as a spectacular academic greater importance on extracurriculars and letters of recommendation Again, We’re trying.

The purpose that standardized test score test scores play in determining whether or not a student is admitted to a school, is to basically show how you stack up compared to students across the nation and all sorts of different kinds of environments and things like that. So when we don’t have that piece of information, we have to pull from things like extracurriculars and letters of rec in order to make that kind of judgment.

So extracurriculars can show how dedicated a student may be to trying to learn things even outside of the classroom. Letters of rec can help to emphasize the kind of student that you may be in a way that we may have tried to kind of determine from standardized test scores, but now we’re not able to.

So we try and pull that information from other sources. Another big thing is the push for equity. In admissions. This was something that was already happening prior, prior to co covid 19 and prior to the really big push for colleges to provide these test optional policies. But I would say now that more and more schools are adopting those policies, it’s E even more important thing to kind of think about, well, now that we’re not requiring standardized testing, which is meant to improve equity, what are we doing in order to make sure that these policies that we’re putting in place are actually.

Helping to achieve this diversity that we had intended. And then lastly, I’m sure the students who are on the call and possibly the parents as well can relate to this less ex anxiety for students who are poor test takers or just anxious, anxious test takers to even know that there are schools that a student can apply to without having taken the SAT or even if they don’t do well on the SAT can definitely be a significant weight off of a student’s shoulders, as I’m sure you know.

So less anxiety for students because there’s not so much of an emphasis on having to perform exceptionally well on these tests in order to be admitted to elite schools. I can think of so many students that I’ve worked with as a teacher and then students that I’ve seen just in application processes in the past who.

Truly agonized over their test scores because even though they were exceptional students, they took the most rigorous course load that they could possibly take, and they did well. They were worried that because they did not do well on the ACT or did not do well on the SAT, that that was going to keep them from being able to excel.

And that can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you are in the situation where you’re a junior, for example, and you’ve already completed three years of your high school career and done exceptionally well. But now it feels like your li your options for colleges are being limited just because you did not do well on one exam.

So definitely less anxiety for students. So something that I wanted to touch on is something that has kind of arisen or come up in a lot of different colleges that have implemented these test free and test optional programs, especially with the intent of providing more equity and increasing diversity on their campuses, is that some colleges that have chosen to either ditch test scores altogether or just make them optional for admissions, have found it sometimes harder to be fair in choosing students.

So I know I saw in one of the questions some parents were talking about how do colleges make comparisons between students who choose to provide test scores and students who choose not to. So, Especially when it comes to schools that are test optional, which what I would say in this movement of schools that are trying to push back against standardized testing, most schools have gone the route of test optional in comparison to the test, flexible or test free option.

I’d say the largest chunk would be test optional if they’re changing their policy at all. And it becomes very difficult for a admissions officer to be completely objective when making these kinds of decisions. There’s already, even prior to standardized testing, sometimes been questions about how objective is the college admissions process really, but it can be especially difficult.

When we’re taking out an element that is commonly used to make decisions about how we admit students, right? So in theory we hope that when a student chooses not to provide test scores, that that is not something that an admissions officer is going to let factor in their decision. That they’re not going to make assumptions that that student must have done poorly on the test because they chose not to provide it.

But I would say it is important as a student, as especially a younger student or as a parent who is supporting a child through the admissions o process to recognize that admissions officers at the end of the day are human beings, right? So if we know that it is extremely unlikely That a student who gets a 1600, 1550 or a 34, 35, 36 on the ACT, like if a, if we are fairly confident that a student who performs like that on standardized tests would choose to provide that information on their application, because why wouldn’t you?

Then there’s sometimes an assumption that an admissions officer may make, even if it’s not an intentional one, that they are making, that a student who chooses not to provide that information likely did poorly or just chose not to take the test at all, which in and of itself may be a reflection of the kind of student that they are.

Right. And so that is something that colleges have noticed in their admissions offices is sometimes admissions officers coming to very different conclusions about a student’s capacity because of the lack of information that they have. Because there is no standardized test scores, we can continue to have conversations about whether standardized test scores are really quality pieces of information about that really reflect a student’s capacity.

But historically, they’ve been used for such a long time that a lot of admissions officers still have a, a difficult time to any extent really being able to make decisions without it. Or even in a situation where an admissions officer isn’t necessarily making an assumption that a student did poorly on a standardized test and that is why they didn’t submit it.

Sometimes admissions officers may be biased and be looking for certain things that a student who does not traditionally submit test scores may not have access to. So I talked previously about how. It’s really important in a world where there are more test free and test optional policies in colleges that it’s important to have the most rigorous course load possible.

To have the highest GPA possible to challenge yourself in extracurriculars and have impressive letters and rec of recommendation. Right? Well, those things can have their own biases the same way that standardized tests can, right? So if you choose not to submit a SAT score or ACT score, that may put an admissions officer in a situation where now they are looking for extremely prestigious extracurriculars that a student may not have access to, or they may be looking for letters of recommendation that can really blow someone out of the water.

And if you are a lower income student or a student of color, sometimes being able to meet the bar, That an admissions officer may be setting for you in order to compensate for the lack of information that comes from the standardized test score can be incredibly different difficult for a student to achieve.

So that’s just something to keep in mind that, you know, if you’re kind of on the fence in terms of your, your test score having that additional information can sometimes be helpful because otherwise the bar is going to be incredibly high in other places. And if you are a student who is marginalized in some way and maybe doesn’t have the access to make the other parts of your application truly extraordinary, sometimes that can be a hindrance or a bias in and of itself that is unfair.

So this is a question I’m sure many parents and students are asking is basically, should I, or should my student still take standardized tests if we’re planning on applying to test optional scores, or should we send these test scores, period. So test free and test optional PO policies are not completely permanent for all schools.

So for some universities, they have made a commitment to keep these policies. In effect for the foreseeable future. However, some policies there were stipulation, these were things that were made during c o d, and there were stipulations that it would lapse fall of 22 or fall of 2023. So I would say it never is going to hurt to take the ACT or the SAT besides just the cost of the exam itself, or any time that the student spends preparing, because what you don’t know, especially if you’re a ninth grade student, eighth grade student, or even a 10th grade student listening to this right now, what you don’t know is by the time that you are a senior in high school and you were applying for colleges, it is not a guarantee that the same schools that you thought were test optional, that you thought were test free are still going to have those same policies when you are applying to their schools.

Some, some of these policies were truly made in response to Covid 19 and not necessarily in an effort to just maintain equity for this foreseeable future. So I would really hate if you were one of my students for you to just assume that you did not need to take any standardized tests and then get to your senior year and realize that a lot of the schools that you were interested in now are requiring it because of changes to their policy.

So it never hurts to at least take the exam so that you can be eligible to apply to a school that you are interested in. If it’s something. That is important to you. And you can always choose not to send your test scores later if you happen to perform poorly. And if you perform poorly the first time, you still can have the option to take it again later and prepare for it.

So I always encourage students, if you have the time to take the test at at least once, please do it so that you don’t close yourself off from being able to choose a certain school or apply to a certain school that you’re interested in. It just keeps your options completely open. So how can students stand out when applying to test optional or test free schools?

I would say. Building strong relationships with teachers and asking for recommendations as early as possible. Also, providing a resume or some sort of supplementary packet to support the teacher in writing those recommendations is very important. I spoke earlier about how letters of rec are definitely a part of the application that would be looked at more closely if you don’t plan on providing a test score, because letters of recommendation can speak to your capacity as your, as a student, your dedication, your performance.

So having a strong relationship with the teacher can help to ensure that those letters of rec are really going to be as strong as possible, as well as asking early and providing additional information like a cover letter and a resume to just make that letter of rec as strong as possible. Also participating in diverse and enriching in extracurriculars, especially ones that align with your major of interest.

Again, this is just another way to show your capacity as a student, your ability to perform and also your academic interests, as well as just curiosity. So if I see a student, for example, who is interested in pursuing a major in biology on the pre-med track, then I may be looking for someone who is involved in some sort of, Health, healthcare sort of society of some sort at their school or someone who volunteers at a hospital or in some sort of field like that.

I may be looking for someone who has dedicated time to their science honor society who is on quiz, quiz bowl or something like that. I’m looking for those kinds of activities to show that this student is pursuing their academic pursuits and doing well and pursuing those academic pursuits not only in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom.

Also challenging yourself in your coursework as much as you can. That is one that I think is more important than all of these. If you are going to be in a situation where you don’t think that you’re going to provide test scores, or you don’t think that your test score is going to be particularly impressive, your transcript is going to be the single most important thing.

That a admissions officer is going to look at in order to determine your capacity as a student. So a huge red flag is going to be a student who chooses not to submit their ACT or SAT score, and then maybe they do have a 4.0 GPA, but they had all of these AP or IB courses that they could have taken, but they chose not to take them for whatever reason.

For me, if I’m an admissions officer, that’s not going to make me feel very confident that that student is going to be able to perform well, especially if I’m doing admissions for a particularly selective school. Because when I’m trying to compare students across all sorts of backgrounds, I’m not going to be completely sure if you’re going to be able to perform the same way in a collegiate kind of sphere.

So that’s just something that’s really important to make sure that you’re showing that you are able to kind of take, take the academic pressure and perform. Also another option if your school doesn’t provide many AP, AP, or IB courses is considering self-studying in subjects of interest. So something I’ve seen some students do is maybe their school doesn’t have that specific AP course, but it’s something that interests them or is related to something that they wanna major in.

They may self-study for that course and then take that AP test at the end of the school year. Or even if it’s not self-studying for an AP exam itself, they may just choose to take like a Coursera course that fi that they find interesting or do a audit a course at a local community college or something like that.

All of those things show an interest in trying to be challenged academically and constantly pursuing knowledge. And then obviously maintaining the highest GPA possible is going to be incredibly important as well. So another question I saw a few times in the chat, which is what counts as a beneficial test score to share for test optional schools?

This is really more of an art than a science. It would be really difficult to give anyone a, a hard answer of, if it’s above this, definitely submit it. If it’s below this, definitely don’t it’s, I would say it’s much more so based on the context of the school that you are applying to rather than just a blanket answer.

But a rough formula you could use is if test scores are strong, so they’re at or near, near the 75th percentile of med schools, definitely submit it. So let’s say that the 25th percentile is a 1400 and the 75th percentile is a 1490. If your student has a. Be 1500 on the SAT, then definitely submit it. I would say even someone who has like a 1480 or something like that, or 1470, maybe that would be someone that, it would probably be worth it for them to submit those scores because it’s in line with the average or above average student that is admitted to their school.

So you really just wanna think about. In the context of the other students who would likely be admitted to that college, does this test score seem to be aligned from the perspective of an admissions officer? The entire time we’re looking at it in an applicant’s packet, we’re thinking about does this lineup with what we’re looking for in a student to who would attend here?

Does this add to the campus that we’re trying to create, the class that we’re trying to create? So if your stats, whether it be your GPA or your test scores, if they line up with the kind of student that they tend to admit to that school, then you should feel fairly confident submitting those scores. Or let’s say, for example, even if your test score isn’t necessarily at or near the 75th percentile, maybe this is a school that is a really big reach for you, right?

And let’s say you don’t have a very good G P A. But this is a very selective school and even though your SAT score isn’t a 1600, maybe it’s say a 1510, but you’re applying to a school like Stanford or Harvard where maybe the 75th percentile is something like a 1560 or something like that, right? Even that 1510, if you’re someone with a GPA of a 3.4 or 3.5, which for a school like Stanford is not very competitive, it would, I would say it would still be worth it to submit because in the grand scheme of things, a 1510 is something that is still rather impressive in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe not necessarily for Stanford itself and their admitted student population. But in comparison to your gpa, which is a 3.4, that 1510 actually makes you look like a stronger student than if you only submitted that 3.4 gpa. So it’s really thinking about the selectivity of the school. How impressive is that test score, not only in relation to the school, but in and of itself, and also how impressive is that test score in comparison to the other academic data that we have?

So if you’re a 4.0 student, the bar for submitting your test score may be higher because a 4.0 and then a 1450. Those are kind of in different brackets in terms of competitiveness academically. But a 3.5 and a 1450, those might be kind of in the same, the same realm. If a, if an admissions officer kind of had to take a guess on how you would perform on a standardized test just based off your GPA.

And then lastly, if the school recommends submitting scores, if at all possible even if a school is test optional, but they say that they really would prefer that you submit test scores, I would say strongly consider submitting them unless you are concerned that that test score will tarnish the otherwise strong profile that that student has.

So, a test score that is somewhere in the 14 hundreds, for a student that is otherwise pretty strong academically, that isn’t always the worst thing in the world, especially if it’s a school that really strongly encourages having test scores just so they can make a complete decision. However, a score that’s in the twelves or the 13 hundreds, that may be something that is just so low that you wouldn’t wanna submit it if you otherwise have a strong academic profile.

And then looking ahead. So what can we expect for these standardized testing policies in the future? I would say that we can expect a continued but slowing shift away from requiring SAT and ACT scores. Like I said in my first slide, the ma vast majority of schools are now providing some sort of test free test, optional test, flexible policy, and I think that we can expect that that will probably stay the same.

However I do want to acknowledge again, I would not bank on it if you are in the eighth, ninth, 10th, or even 11th grade. And if you have not taken the ACT or SAT yet, I would not bank on not needing to take those exams because there are still a number of schools that have set a end date insight for their test optional or test free policies for either last fall or this upcoming fall.

So the coming years colleges are going to have to reevaluate how they wanna handle that. Some schools may continue those policies or extend them for the foreseeable future. Some may choose to appeal them because the reasons that I talked about earlier of it just being too difficult for some admissions offices to make unbiased decisions about students without having that extra piece of information.

So I think that because of the equity aspect of it, There probably continue to be these kinds of policies for most schools, but there may be a change in how they look. So I could, I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe some schools shift from being test optional to instead providing a sort of test flexible policy that still allows them to have some sort of testing information or some schools that are test free, possibly shifting to a test optional policy instead.

Right. So I, I, I think that the days of requiring ACT and SAT flat out are starting to fade away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that schools are completely at their final point in terms of requiring ACT and SAT scores. I think selective colleges will likely continue to have some sort of test optional or text flexible.

Test flexible policy. That’s primarily because when you are a selective school that has a less than 10% acceptance rate, you are relying so heavily on every piece of data you can possibly get about a student in their application. So I don’t foresee many selective colleges getting to a point where they completely go test free, because I think that having some sort of standardized test data is really too valuable for many admissions offices, for selective colleges to completely forego.

So even if that means. Allowing students to submit AP scores in lieu of ACT scores, that’s still going to be a better situation for them rather than not looking at any of that information at all. And again, a rising emphasis on extracurricular activities and rigorous courses when you take away an entire element of the application process, unfortunately, it, it does increase the standards for other a aspects of the application.

So having those passion projects, having leadership roles taking the time to do enrichment in your area of interest, academically, those things are all going to become more and more critical as there’s less emphasis on other aspects of the application. Okay. So, all right. So we’re going to move into questions and answers really quickly.

One thing I wanted to share just as a caveat to, or nuanced to your last point, Lydia, is that also the Harvard North Carolina decision that’s gonna come out of the Supreme Court is also gonna shift how colleges are able to use affirmative action or not. So I think honestly for folks who are eighth, ninth, 10th grade, you’re probably going to be looking at a very, very different admissions process.

Depending on what colleges are then told they can or cannot use in how to evaluate candidate candidates. So Answer unfortunately is kinda like, we don’t know. We have to all kind of wait and see, which is probably a bit disappointing. I just wanna run through some quick questions that I asked that I, that were asked, that I answered in the chat.

So someone asked for the highest number of SAT scores or what’s the highest score that you can obtain on the SAT? It’s a 1600. You can get an 800 on the math section and an 800 on the reading and writing section. On the ACT it is a 36. Your composite scores typically an average of the other sections, English, math, reading.

And science and writing if you choose to take that. And you can get up to a 36 in each section. Another question was which test does UC do? The PCs prefer? The UCs are entirely test blind. They do not accept any tests right now. And then the other questions I’ll ask a little bit later in, but those are some quick ones off the top.

I know you answered this question, but people have asked me multiple times, so I’m just gonna have you answer it again. When a school says that it’s test optional, how does the school decide between two students one who submitted a score and other who did not, if they have comparable profiles?

Yeah, so I would say if, let’s say we have two students who literally are completely the same in terms of their grades, they did the exact same extracurriculars for the exact same amount of time and had the exact same level of leadership in them. And. All of that, right? Like E, everything is exactly the same except one student submitted their test score and one student did not.

I would say assuming that the test score that the student submitted is a impressive one, or one that lines up with an otherwise impressive application for both of the students, I would say that the student that chose to provide that impressive test score would probably be more competitive for admission than the student who did not.

And that is because, not just because, oh, it’s better always to submit test scores, but because again, test scores provide an additional point of data to support that you are a good fit for that score, that you are a strong student. However, on the same side of the coin, let’s say that we have two students who are completely identical in every single way.

And one student submits test scores, one student does not, but that test score is fairly low. Then that student may actually be less competitive than the student who chose not to because we’ve kind of got like a Schrodinger’s cat kind of situation where we, we can’t know what the student who didn’t submit the test score how they did.

So we can’t make the assumption necessarily their score is low. We may think that students who tend not to submit scores tend to do lower, but as an admissions officer, we are not supposed to make those kinds of assumptions and make decisions based on those assumptions. So the student who chose to provide the information that they actually did do poorly on this test score within that situation, probably be considered less competitive than that student.

So it’s not that submitting the score or not submitting the score automatically makes you more or less competitive. It’s more so that it is just additional information. And when you’re making the decision on whether or not to submit a test score, that’s really the most effective way that I can really say to look at it, is, is this additional information going to help me or hurt me?

So you know, if, if it’s something that you think is going to make you seem like a better applicant than submit it, if it’s something that you think is going to make you seem less competitive, or if you think it’s something that would be considered a caveat to your application, probably don’t disclose that information because it’s better to kind of let it be a mystery than to give them a definite answer of, yes, this student is a bad test take bad test taker.

Yeah, that’s the, the least complicated way to answer that, that, that question for sure. And I think, just to speak to a point you raised earlier, that if you aren’t submitting test scores and you’re concerned about being seen as a good, a good candidate, then it is an opportunity for you to find other, other things that you can submit in order to show that you are academically competitive.

So that’s when those dual enrollment classes I think become important or anything else, you can show that you are like academically prepared for college, but that is to the point you made earlier, harder to do and a little bit more complicated to make sure the colleges will see it on your application.

So this kind of speaks to that question or this next question that I’m gonna ask. So someone said, is it true that you’re evaluated in light of what your school offers and not compared to students at other schools? So to this comparison question, how are students evaluated? Right. Yes. So that, that is right.

PR Patricia, like you, you are evaluated in the context of your own environment. So if. So I taught at a Title one school where there weren’t many opportunities for students to participate in extracurriculars outside of sports, right? So for my students, when they were applying to colleges, something that we really drove home for them is that you’re not expected to have the same experiences and extracurriculars and letters of rec and all those different kinds of things.

As a student who went to a. Feeder, private, you know, school that has all these resources and things like that. So students are expected to be evaluated within the context of their situation. However, the, the difficulty for students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds that have fewer resources, fewer AP courses, fewer extracurriculars, what is difficult for them is actually kind of a similar issue to students who choose not to provide standardized test scores is that admissions officers are put in a situation where they have to kind of try to just evaluate the capacity of a student based on more limited information than a student who comes from the most privileged background and had every opportunity we have to make this decision of does this student seem to have the kind of grit to nasty natural talent intelligence?

All of that where they would have thrived in a situation that provided them more resources. And so it can sometimes be difficult because at the end of the day, there are only so many seats or, you know, a available slots open for these selective colleges is if a student is not able to show that they literally took advantage of every single opportunity available to them, even if it there weren’t many opportunities available to them, then it becomes a much bigger, I’d say, ding on their application.

Then a student who went to a school that had a lot of resources, and maybe they didn’t take advantage of all of them, but they took advantage of the majority of them. So for example, if my school only has three honor societies, or three, you know, valuable opportunities to offer to me, then it’s really important that as a student, I took advantage of every single one of them to show that if I were in a situation where I had more, I would’ve done it.

If I only take advantage of one of those three opportunities, then an admissions officer may look at that more harshly because it’s like, how can I have confidence that this person, if they had more resources, that they would’ve taken advantage of them compared to a student who has everything under the sun, even if they’re only doing 50% of those things.

If that adds up to three, four, or five extracurriculars that the it, it shows a little bit more. So it’s really just about a, again, a Schrodinger’s cat of, we don’t necessarily know how a student would perform in a different environment, but because there are fewer resources, you have to take advantage of all of the ones that are available to you.

But again, yes, you are evaluated just in the context of your environment. We don’t expect a student who went to a Title one school or who comes from a low economic background to have the same resume as a student who had every resource and opportunity. Available to them. So just a point of clarification on that.

Are you being, so are students compared to these students at their schools? That’s what you’re saying. So students are compared to the other students within their school, within their environment, not apples to oranges. They’re not compared directly to other students at other schools and other environments.

However, when there are a limited number of spots, there is an expectation that a student who comes from a lower income background or a more disadvantaged background is able to prove themselves theoretically, equally capable to a student who has a more privileged background. Before we get to finish up some of the questions, gotta do a quick PSA for any folks who are in the room who are not currently working with us.

We know that the process is overwhelming. You all have a lot of very specific and personal questions that we share would be helpful for our admissions team to, to an help you answer. And so we have a team of over 300 former admissions officers and experts like myself and Lydia, who can help you and your family navigate the process through 1 0 1 advising.

You can take the next step and use the QR code that is on the screen to sign up for a 45 to 60 minute strategy session where we’ll talk about extracurriculars, application strategy, college list, and outline some tools you need to stand out in the admissions process. So we’ll leave that QR code up as we go back to the questions.

One interesting question that came through Lydia was which grade do you have advice on? Like, which grade is a good time to start taking these tests? When should students start to kind of strategize for registering for a test? I usually recommend to my students to if, if you are taking the time to prepare effectively, because for some schools, especially ones that are more traditional with standardized tests, they may want you to submit every single time that you took your standardized test.

But if you have already started doing some sort of preparation, I think that it can be nice to take that first test summer between sophomore year and junior year at the end of your sophomore year, just to get kind of a baseline of where you’re at. And that way you’re not having to do what some students end up doing, which is.

Speed run to cram for the test in order to get a better score. If you take it at the end of your sophomore year, you give yourself ample time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t go well, and retake it if not even just one more time, but two or three more times, I wouldn’t take it more than three additional times.

Versus if you wait until the end of your junior year or even sometimes the beginning of your junior year, you just leave yourself with not as much time to be able to revise and improve on your performance from previous tests. My next question is a bit of a combo from a couple of questions. So someone asked, how are test optional policies skewing the 25 to 75% range, is it going higher?

And then if the student is debating if they should submit scores Which average should they be looking at? How far in the past or, you know, can they anticipate what that range will end up being? Mm-hmm. I mean I think, I would imagine that test optional is likely skewing the, the test scores because you’re looking at students who know that they have a competitive score, and so you’re not getting to see the students who would’ve been accepted despite their low score and getting those accounted for because the, the schools don’t have them.

So, yes, I, I imagine that when you go to a school’s website, now the stats that they have for the a, the median SAT and ACT score are noticeably higher than they were a number of years ago. I would say it’s probably better to look back at the test scores that a school had right before Covid. So what that would be like the, the class that was accepted in 2019.

So class of 2023. I think that that would be a, a, a good place to start because again, if you’re looking at the 75th percentile of the students who chose to submit their test, that’s going to be a much higher bar in a, a bar that’s not really realistic compared to this just average student that was accepted when everyone was expected to submit scores.

So when you’re trying to decide whether to submit, I would look more so at the scores that were competitive right before COVID 19, rather than the most competitive scores post covid 19 post-test optional policy. Do you know of anything regarding the digital test? So someone asked, do you have comparable data of the digital test scores?

Is it subject to a curve? I don’t know if you know anything about the digital test. So I, I know that the SAT recently changed their format that they’re only doing digital now. I do not know exactly how much that’s affecting the test scores necessarily, or how that’s affecting scoring. I think it probably is on a student to student basis, depending on, you know, some students tend to do well on computer exams, some students tend not to I think it’s probably too early to know for sure how comparable the two are.

And, you know, these test companies are constantly revising themselves, especially in light of test optional. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there are multiple iterations after this cycle of digital testing for the SAT to try and get it right. Yeah, I think I, I’ve had some students who were doing practice tests, and so I think they’re creating like a baseline for students who don’t have to count the test towards their official score, but collecting scores and if the scores end up being different, they will also publish a conversion rate, a conversion table.

That’s what they did a couple years ago when they changed the way how the SAT was scored went from 2400 to 1600. They provided a conversion so you can see what your score would’ve been. Based on the, the older scale. There are a lot of questions we did not get to. There were a lot of questions that weren’t always SAT specific, which is why I skipped them folks.

So apologies for that. But thank you so much Lydia, for your time and expertise. We really do appreciate it. Thank you all for joining us this evening in this very fast paced I think session with a lot of information going through. We do hope that you gain some tips and strategies for navigating the training landscape of standardized testing.

And we hope you join us for our other webinars later this month. Tomorrow we will have tomorrow May 17th, we’ll have a session on helping you figure out your college fit, so they can be on academics and s sat t scores. What are the other factors to keep in mind about picking schools on May 21st?

We’ll continue our series on summer opportunities. So if you’re still looking for summer events, we’ll have we’ll discuss summer opportunities in stem and we’ll have a couple more season sessions later this month if you join us. So until next time, take care and have a great evening, and thanks again, Lydia, for all of your help.

No problem.