Should you be doing the SAT/ ACT this year?

Decision-Making for US College Applications: A COVID-19 post

This is the first mini-article in a series of minis focused on how COVID-19 may affect the decisions parents/ guardians and students have to make when applying to US colleges.

Decision 1: Should you be doing the SAT/ ACT this year?

Reasons to take the SAT/ ACT:

  1. Students have more free time to study right now than they may ever have again.
  2. Schools that have shifted to test-optional for the Fall 2021 intake may shift back for 2022, so students who are applying next year may still be required to take the test.
  3. Students who are unsure which colleges they want to attend should take the SAT/ ACT to preserve optionality.  Note: some schools that are test optional for international students may still require the exam for ISPS and Maple Leaf students.
  4. CAPE/ CSEC uncertainty creates a situation in which the possession of other test results may create a competitive advantage for a student.
  5. In normal times, taking the SAT/ ACT offers more scholarship opportunities.  I believe this will hold true for some universities this year.
  6. Taking the SAT/ ACT does not mean that you need to use the scores, so a high score is an advantage, but a low score is not a disadvantage.

Reasons to not take the SAT/ ACT:

  1. The past two years have seen a big push of colleges offering test-optional and test-flexible policies, particularly to international students. Because of COVID-19, more colleges than ever will be test-optional this year. The growing list includes Cornell University, the University of California colleges, and Boston University.
  2. The test may present a financial burden right now that can be avoided.  Each test costs ~$100 USD to take. Then, there are the added costs of test prep, sending test scores to colleges, and retaking the test.
  3. Students who are dealing with pressure of any kind should NOT stress about these exams – what you have will be more than enough. Furthermore, universities are doing everything they can to accommodate unique circumstances.
  4. This may seem obvious, but if you are most likely going to study outside the US, I would consider opting out of taking the SAT/ ACT this year.

Overall Recommendation:

This is not a one-size fits all decision, but I would lean towards taking the exam for the reasons above. Since each student’s case is unique, I recommend that new students book one of my free 30-min consults to discuss.

IvyEdge Plan:

This year, there will be an international August SAT exam (barring no complications) for the first time ever.

  1. Classes begin June 8th.  The schedule, prices and registration details have been posted.
  2. Classes will be virtual to begin and will change depending on the climate.  I have a lot of experience teaching virtually with great success, including students accepted to Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, University of Virginia, Amherst College, University of North Carolina, and more.
  3. I will offer a series of options, ranging from free to regularly-priced classes, so that students experiencing financial difficulty because of COVID-19 can still benefit from IvyEdge guidance.
  4. Classes will be over a longer period of time and will be smaller than my typical classes of 10 students each. I want any students who decide to take the SAT this year to see a significant improvement over three months, with the hope that this is the only time they will have to take the exam.
  5. Classes will be more driven towards SAT plus general knowledge, so that students will be better equipped to deal with college coursework and college writing.
  6. As always, IvyEdge Global will provide all classwork and homework material to students.

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