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College Admissions Tests: Policy Extensions & Going Digital

Test-optional Policy Extension

Harvard University recently announced that the college is extending their test-optional policy through 2026. In higher education, universities often emulate whatever Harvard does. With respect to the data, CommonApp reported that 43% of students submitted test scores (ACT/SAT) for the 20-21 admissions cycle, down from 77% in 2019-20 (pre-pandemic). Therefore, some higher education experts believe that this is the beginning of the end for standardized college entrance exams. I defer to the wait and see approach because right now it is just too early to tell.

Although there are benefits for test-optional policies, many institutions still require a standardized test-score and will continue to offer scholarships to students with competitive scores. The bottom line is that students should continue to submit scores as long as there are clear advantages in doing so. Test scores will remain an admissions factor until they are completely eliminated as an admissions criterion and it's clear that with changes to the SAT beginning next year, it is unlikely that standardized entrance exams will remain an admissions factor. Read on the learn more about changes to the SAT exam.

SAT: Going Digital

Today, College Board announced new changes for the SAT exam. Starting in spring 2023, international test-takers will be able to take the SAT on laptops and tablets. For U.S. students, this change will go into effect in spring 2024. In addition to College Board eliminating paper exams, the length of the exam will be shortened to two hours. Score availability will be posted within days (as opposed to two weeks) and calculators will be allowed for the entire math portion of the exam. Score reports will also connect students to two-year college programs, vocational training programs in addition to scholarships and the current recommendations.

So why is College Board making these changes - the answer is simple - relevancy. The pandemic has been a major disruption to higher education and the various industries entangled in higher education, such as the standardized testing industry. College Board must stay relevant within the higher education landscape as they support a number of initiatives including the College Scholarship Service (CSS) process which private institutions use to grant institutional aid. In a sense, College Board had to make changes to the SAT to accommodate a global environment still grappling with the pandemic. It's a move of self-preservation. It's a strategic move to remain relevant while still offering increased options and quicker service in a very competitive college admissions environment. Ultimately, it is beneficial for college-bound students and institutions who prefer the status quo in the college admissions game. Additionally, the exam will support students who need accommodations. As an independent higher education consultant, the quicker turn around in score reporting will help students in their college admissions strategy. As the roll out for these changes will impact international students next spring 2023 - students, parents, educators, advocates and others will see how these changes will signal a return to status quo in US higher education.

Upcoming 2022 Test Dates (as of Jan. 2022):

SAT TEST SCHEDULE: MARCH 12, 2022 MAY 7, 2022 JUNE 4, 2022 2022

ACT TEST SCHEDULE FEBRUARY 12, 2022 APRIL 2, 2022 JUNE 11, 2022 JULY 16, 2022

For more on ACT/SAT College Entrance Exams: Click Here

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