What’s Next for Students?

With so many things happening this year, you might be left saying, “What’s Next for Students”? 2020 has been the year of change for so many reasons, but many high school Sophomores and Juniors are wondering what are they supposed to do now? Do they take the ACT? If so, which test date? If they do not take the ACT, is that okay too?

Let’s start with moving forward. The April 4th ACT was canceled and many locations across the country also canceled the June ACT. Those students who were signed up to take the test on those dates were pushed back to June or July, respectively. The July national test date isn’t hugely popular, although many of our tutors think it’s a good choice for students who don’t want to compete with studying for the ACT while in school.

The September 12th ACT is a great test date for students to aspire to since they will already be about a month into school at that point and will be able to get back into the swing of studying and applying themselves scholastically.  As far as test prep goes, our courses start July 21st in preparation for the September test. Since prep begins in the summer, students have more flexibility with their schedules for about half of their total test prep.

ACT Test Date Prep Start Date
September 12th  July 21st
October 24th  September 3rd

Another option for students to consider is waiting until the fall/winter to take the ACT in either October or December. Keep in mind, test prep at Get Smarter Prep for any ACT is generally eight weeks in length. Make sure your schedules are cohesive with studying and prepping for a certain ACT date.

Test Optional

For the class of 2021, is the ACT necessary? For some colleges and universities, the answer is no. Due to COVID-19, certain schools are reconsidering the ACT for the class of 2021 for college acceptance. However, that does not take into consideration Merit-Based Scholarships. Those scholarships will still be based on your GPA as well as your ACT score. Keep that in mind as you consider whether to take the ACT.   

The bottom line for high school students moving forward, is to do your own research. Some colleges will be test optional, some will not. Some colleges will accept students from the class of 2021 with or without an ACT/SAT. Still, other colleges will only offer Merit-Based Scholarships with a certain ACT score. Each school is different, so make sure to look into every college on your list and see what their requirements are before making a rash decision.

Test-Optional Schools: Just how optional are those test scores?

Since the spring of 2015, 44 colleges have made the decision to drop the requirement of college admission test scores from their application process. According to FairTest, this brings the total number of test-optional colleges and universities to over 850. Unfortunately, it seems this growing trend in higher education holds more benefits for the schools who implement this policy than it does for their potential applicants.

Test-optional universities typically get a boost in the number of total applications received. In turn, this influx of applications results in more rejections which brings down the school’s acceptance rate, creating the illusion that the university has become more exclusive. Additionally, schools expect low scoring students to opt out of reporting test scores, which in turn could raise the average test score of the student population by removing many of the lowest scores from the equation. These statistics favorably impact college rankings for test-optional colleges.

Not all test-optional schools are created equally. The application process varies greatly from institution to institution. In fact, scores may not be optional for homeschooled students or in order to be considered for scholarships or financial aid packages. Many schools also require extra essays or minimum GPA requirements for students to forego the test scores submission process.

It is important to remember that even if you choose not to disclose your ACT/SAT scores when applying to a test-optional university, you will still be competing for admission with applicants who have submitted their scores for review. The general assumption schools make is that applicants who choose not to submit test scores do so out of fear that the score would weaken their application. Therefore, other aspects of the student’s application will be reviewed with a greater level of scrutiny. Test-optional schools are a great option for students who are otherwise well-rounded or who possess a specific skill or talent but perform poorly on test day.* The test-optional application process most certainly is not a simplified procedure but rather an alternative to the traditional path toward college acceptance.

            *It’s important to note that while many students score lower than they anticipated,
             only a very small percentage of students can’t improve their test scores in a meaningful way.

Written by Standard-Level Tutor, Jennifer Murphy