The Current State of College/University Readiness & the SAT®/ACT®

With all the changes over the last couple of years, the college/university admissions process may seem even more complex and overwhelming than it typically does. Questions like the following are quite common:

  • Should I take the SAT/ACT if schools are test-optional?
  • What happens if I can’t visit all of the schools on my list?
  • Will I be ready for college/university?
  • How important is my GPA right now? What about extracurriculars?

B-r-e-a-t-h-e—everyone is in the same boat—and colleges/universities want to help! Schools are prepared to be more flexible and sensitive, but it’s more important than ever to do your research and communicate with them so you understand their current admissions criteria for the year you will be applying.

College/University Expectations

While college applications may have not changed significantly, there are a few things to keep in mind when applying to school during the age of COVID. The test-optional trend continues. This means that for many schools, students can decide whether or not to submit test scores along with their application. If a student opts not to send test scores, there will be a greater focus on the other parts of the application, especially GPA, grades, and the types of courses students are taking. Additionally, some college/universities are adding other components to their application such as writing samples, portfolios, video interviews, or short video responses.

What does this mean for students applying to college/university?

A student that opts not to send in test scores can expect more emphasis to be placed on GPA, rigors of courses taken GPAs, counselor/teacher recommendations and college/university application essays.

Some schools are also adding components like additional writing samples, portfolios and video interviews. While some of these components may be optional, if this can help to set a student apart and allow the school to get to know a student better—it’s best to spend the additional time on them.

Getting prepared for college/university is not just about preparing to take the SAT/ACT—it’s ensuring that teens hone their skills in reading, writing and math - especially with some of the learning loss we know occurred due to school disruptions.

This helps make sure students will be able to keep up with the rigors of a college/university education. Plus, doing this will help students avoid having to take remediation courses in college/university and put them on the path to graduation.

The good news is schools WANT students to apply and attend! Many colleges/universities have spruced up their virtual tours, added many opportunities for virtual meet and greets with students, faculty and departments, and have adjusted some of their admissions requirements to offer a bit more flexibility/options to adjust to the effects the pandemic has had on teens. And, they want prospective students to contact them with concerns and questions.

The bottom line? If you or your teen have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! It’s also a great idea to demonstrate interest by interacting via email, connecting on social media, and attending virtual sessions or tours. Many schools will track this type of interaction – so don’t miss this opportunity!

Should My Teen Take the SAT/ACT?

Yes! We are still encouraging students to take the SAT or ACT for the following reasons:

  • While many schools are at least temporarily test optional, it’s important to note that test optional does not mean test blind.

    Test optional means students can decide if they want to send SAT/ACT scores as part of the application or not, while test blind means the school won’t consider the tests at all, even if a student sends them.

    Test-optional schools will still utilize the scores in their decision-making process if they are sent, or they’ll provide an alternative option if a student is not sending scores. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what the alternative is before deciding whether to include test scores. If your teen’s score can help set him or her apart – send it!

    TIP: Test-optional policies vary across schools, so be sure to read each school’s policy carefully.

    TIP: Research the mid 50% of test scores of recently admitted students to colleges on a student’s college list. Send scores that are at least at that 50% or higher for more selective schools.

  • State/province-level or general scholarships may still require a score.
  • Students should test to make sure college/university readiness is where it should be.
  • Good scores can benefit students who perhaps don’t have a high GPA.
  • Scores can be used for course placement.
  • Home-schooled students may still be required to take the SAT/ACT.
  • Admittance to certain majors may still require an SAT or ACT score.
  • Most likely, at least one college/university on your teen’s school list will require it.
  • Some colleges/universities might lift the test optional choice for students applying to enter college in Fall of 2023 or beyond.
  • Since the future of the SAT/ACT is still in flux, it’s a good idea to prepare for and take the SAT/ACT early and then focus on the other parts of the application process.
Teen and Mom on Computer
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Our Tips for College/University Prep in 2022

1. Register for tests early! Many testing centers have reduced testing capacity due to COVID restrictions and may fill up quickly.

Stay in the know by visiting and on a regular basis.

TIP: If your teen’s school offers SAT School Day or ACT District Testing options, be sure to participate!

2. GPA is still one of the top factors in admissions decisions. If you need support in any of your classes, turn to your local Sylvan experts for support

3. Review the admissions requirements for each school that your teen is planning to apply to. If your teen opts not to send in test scores, be sure to check if additional components are required in lieu of test scores.

4. Students should attend virtual college/university fairs/sessions and take virtual tours, as well as connect via social media or email.

5. Be sure your teen is prepared for college/university-level coursework.

6. Write a top-notch college/university essay!

We’re Here for You and Your Teen!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with trying to keep up with these changes … we’re here for you. Your local Sylvan can help you navigate this process! We can ensure your teen is ready for college/university-level math, reading and writing. And, we can help with SAT and ACT prep!

Find My Local Sylvan
We'd love to talk with you about how we can help your child reach his or her individual goals!