What a year 2020 proved to be! Before we were able to take a deep breath and relax a little, we started off 2021 with more breaking news from the world of college admissions. Here’s a quick summary of the latest updates:
- On January 19th, we woke up to the announcement that the College Board has decided to discontinue the administration of the SAT subject tests as well as the essay section of the SAT. You can read College Board’s official announcement here.
- On January 25th, Cornell was the first Ivy League university to announce the suspension of SAT/ACT requirement for 2022 applicants. You can read the official announcement here. Columbia and Penn followed suit in the upcoming days, and it would be safe to say that many more will be releasing test-optional policies for the Class of 2022.
At EdMission Possible, we applaud and appreciate those colleges who are acting fast enough to notify the public about their testing policies so that our students can take the necessary steps accordingly. This is by no means saying that my job as a counselor is getting any easier; on the contrary, I’m inundated with questions as to whether students should take the SAT/ACT. The answer to this question really depends on your unique situation, but here’s my advice on what you can do:
- If you believe taking a standardized test is one of your strongest pursuits, then why not demonstrate it to the colleges? Sign up for any of the standardized tests this spring and hope for the best. Start preparing for the test that you want to take. To decide which test would better serve your needs, you can read my blog post that I wrote two years ago.
- Be prepared for test cancellations this spring. Study hard and prepare to the best of your ability, but don’t be too upset if you can’t sit for a set due possible test center closings caused by rising COVID cases in your area. After all, the health of students and administrators is what matters the most. If you end up not being able to take any standardized tests, please remember that you aren’t the only one. Colleges will understand and evaluate your application holistically. It has been remarkable to see that colleges have kept their promise so far regarding test-optional applications. I have seen many accepted students who applied test-optional to some highly selective schools during the EA/AD cycle. This should be a good reminder that standardized tests aren’t everything; they’re just a small piece of the pie. There’s more to a student than a multiple-choice exam given in three and a half hours.
- If you’re already taking AP classes, focus on making the best of them by preparing for the May exam. With no SAT subject tests in the picture, colleges will be interested in seeing your AP exam scores. However, don’t overload yourself with AP classes during your senior year just to impress colleges. Finishing each class academically strong is key here. If you think being too challenged might impact your grades or your mental health, don’t do it.
- Focus on your high school classes. Keep up the rigor and maintain a very good GPA. As I always say, your GPA along with the rigor of your core classes will be the most important factor in admission decisions. Standardized tests might come and go, even your sports season might be cancelled, but academic achievements will never go out of style.
- If you are an international student, there’s a good chance that you will be asked to submit proof of English language proficiency. Although the TOEFL would be the most-commonly used test, due to test center cancellations, some colleges are also accepting Duolingo, which can be taken online from the comfort of your home. Before you take any language proficiency tests, make sure to check out each college’s website for any updates and to see which language tests will be accepted. You can search for the list of colleges that will allow you to submit Duolingo test scores to satisfy English proficiency requirements on Duolingo’s website.
At EdMission Possible, we pride ourselves in serving the individual needs of every student. If you have specific questions related to testing, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here for you. We will continue watching all the college updates closely and will do our best to keep you informed in a timely manner.
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Independent Educational Consultant, Founder, and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She has completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for over 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc.
Burcak is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a Voting Member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC). She currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.