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TO TEST OR NOT TO TEST – Advice for students in the class of 2021

 As of today, July 13, 2020, there are more than 1240 colleges and universities that have joined the test optional movement for at least the next year.  It has been estimated that by the end of August 2020, more than 50% of all colleges in the United States will have a test-optional policy. The tests, of course, are the SAT and ACT, which until this year, have been required for admission to most colleges and the cause of anxiety and stress for many high school juniors.

Recently, several of the Ivy’s, i.e. Harvard, Princeton and Stanford, announced their intention to go test optional.  As an independent educational counselor, I field questions daily from parents and students about testing.  Most students, especially those with high test anxiety, are thrilled.  “THAT’S GREAT!” one of my juniors exclaimed when I told him that eight out of the 10 schools on his list had decided not to require test scores.

Not so fast!

The primary reason that college are adopting this policy has to do with the Coronavirus and the need for social distancing.   And, if 50% of colleges do go test optional before the new school year begins, there are another 50% of colleges that will be requiring the test.  The ACT and the College Board (which administers the SAT) have been scrambling to add safety precautions to most testing sites so that students can stay six feet apart, while wearing a mask and taking the exam.  Each organization has added multiple testing dates for the fall so that all seniors have the opportunity to take the exam at least once.

My advice to students and parents is to sign up and take at least one of the tests this fall.  If the colleges you are applying to are test optional, you can decide whether to send them your scores or not.  If the college requires the testing, you have done it.  Students:  You want to submit quality applications that are complete and comprehensive.  That is the winning strategy for getting into the college of your dreams. Sign up for the testing as soon as possible, though, because some of the test dates in some areas of the country are full.

The registration and testing dates for the SAT and ACT are listed below:

SAT Test Date                    Registration Date

August 29                            July 31

Sept 26                                 Aug 26

Oct 3                                      Sept 4

To register for the SAT, go to:

ACT Test Date                    Registration Date*

Sept 12                                 *opens for all dates the end of July

Sept 13

Sept 19

Oct 10

Oct 17

Oct 24

Oct 25

To register for the ACT, go to:

You will need a photo to scan in with your registration