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COVID-19 and the Current State of College/University Readiness & the SAT/ACT

Due to the current impact of COVID-19, 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 some 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 after having virtual/hybrid classes?
  • 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 being more flexible and understanding during this time, but it’s more important than ever to communicate with them so you understand their current admissions criteria.

College/University Expectations


While college applications may have not changed significantly, what has changed the most is that many items from a student’s application may be missing, such as spring 2020 grades, extracurricular activities (sports, plays, music, job/work-study experiences) and in some cases, test scores.

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


It means there is a greater emphasis on what students do have, such as current grades, counselor/teacher recommendations, college/university application essay and SAT/ACT scores.

Getting prepared for college/university is more than just taking the SAT/ACT—it’s ensuring that teens hone their skills in reading, writing and math. 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 graduating from college.

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 during this pandemic. And, they want prospective students to contact them with concerns and questions.

The bottom line? If you or your student have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out

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 or not, while test blind means the school won’t consider the tests at all.

    Most test-optional schools will 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.

  • State/province-level or general scholarships will need 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 will lift the test optional choice in 2022 or beyond (some decisions will be made this spring regarding this).
Teen and Mom on Computer
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Our Tips for College/University Prep in 2021


1. Register for tests early! And, try to be flexible as far as testing dates and testing locations. Open seats may only be available at testing centers that are farther from your home.

Stay in the know by visiting ACT.org and CollegeBoard.org 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, please reach out for assistance.

3. Review the admissions requirements for each school that your teen is planning to apply to. Some colleges/universities still want SAT/ACT scores, and/or will use them in their decision making if they are sent. Others will require additional information in lieu of test scores.

4. Students should attend virtual college/university fairs and take virtual tours.

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!