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In the aftermath of the covid-19 outbreak, Ivy League universities swiftly adopted test-optional policies, indicating an abrupt departure from the long-standing dependence on standardized tests in the admissions process. The move was a nod to the challenges students faced with test cancellations and disruptions, as well as a recognition that the tests have been identified as a source of socioeconomic and racial disparities when it comes to college admissions.

In the wake of the pandemic, MIT is the only Ivy League+ school to return to its testing requirements. While other prestigious schools have kept their tests policy, the test-optional policies haven’t (with the exception of Columbia) extended them indefinitely and a majority of them have acknowledged that they will continue to examine the effects of policies that allow for test-optional admissions. For example, Princeton University states that it “continues to assess the effects the pandemic has had on teaching and learning in secondary schools in the United States and around the world” and “the role standardized testing should play in our admission process.”
Ivy League institutions have instated the following extensions:

  • Brown brown The Extended through the class of 2028
  • Columbia — Extended indefinitely
  • Cornell Cornell Extensive until the Class of 2028
  • Dartmouth — Extensive through 2028.
  • Harvard • extended to the class of 2030
  • Penn Extended to 2028’s Class of 2028
  • Princeton — extended to the class of 2030
  • Yale Extended to the class of 2028 (long-term policy announcement to be announced this winter)

As a result of the fact that a lot of extensions are scheduled to expire in 2023-24 and if they are not renewed, it is essential that students put in a lot of time and effort to excel in standardized tests, particularly as a number of tests’ pandemic-era findings about its effectiveness are now called into the light of. This month, The New York Times published an extensive analysis of the SAT and questioned the popular belief that the test is a source of inequality and isn’t an effective metric to measure college success. The article points out that test scores standardized are generally a better indicator of college success as opposed to grade point averages, according to M.I.T. 

Director of Admission Stuart Schmill, who declares: “Just getting straight A’s is not enough information for us to know whether the students are going to succeed or not.”

The overall tone indicates that the tide is turning regarding the significance of testing that is standardized for college admissions, since the end of extensions to test-optional tests is near. The evidence from the past has suggested that, even when test-optional policies exist, providing scores that are high on tests tends to increase the chances of being accepted. However in the near future, due to the renewal of test requirements students should begin studying and preparing earlier to be able to attain their desired score and stand out among top universities.

Although they are similar, the SAT and ACT are a bit different in content and format, as well as one of the initial stages to success is deciding on the test that can best demonstrate the students’ abilities. The SAT contains sections on writing, reading as well as math, and is scheduled to last two hours and 14 minutes. The ACT is, however, about three hours. It is comprised of science, math, English, and reading sections. The ACT covers Pre-Calculus but the SAT isn’t able to cover all of it. Therefore, students who haven’t taken these courses or aren’t comfortable with math at a higher level might want to take the SAT. Students who are confident with reading comprehension should consider taking the SAT in lieu of the ACT. The science section of the ACT contains a variety of tables and graphs, therefore, students who are more at ease with data analysis are likely be more successful in this section.

2. Practice (tests) help you become better.

One of the most effective methods students can use to succeed in test like the ACT as well as the SAT is to have plenty of practice with test-taking exercises. Students who are getting started with the preparation process during their sophomore year may begin working on practice questions and then move on to whole practice tests once they feel confident. If students decide to take test-taking practice, they must try to recreate the setting they’ll be taking the actual test. Instead of being on the sofa and preparing at the table in the kitchen or at the local library and ensure that students are located in a peaceful space that allows for focus. In both tests, it is crucial for students to classify those questions that they failed most often. This may be based on either the test’s official categorization, or the students’ own perception of what made the test especially challenging for them. For instance, if the student discovers that they answered a lot of punctuation mistakes and is looking for a way to determine if there’s a common grammar rule that they must be studying or memorizing to help them solve the question correctly next time. The advantage of categorizing (and knowing what you do in the wrong) is that questions within the same category will perform the same way.

3. Be attentive and attentive to the finer points.

Many students are penalized not because they’re wrong about their answer or not been able to comprehend the question in a thorough manner. In math-related problems, students must take the additional 10 or 20 minutes to ensure they are able to clearly define each word used in the problem before they attempt to solve the problem. It’s easy to miss terms like “integer” or to switch “similar” and “congruent,” and it’s important to avoid mistakes in the beginning of solving the question. If you are taking the verbal section in the online SAT students must read the question prior to they read the passage. They must approach the passage with an understanding of the most important terms or ideas they are looking for. Not only will this increase the accuracy of the passage, but it can also reduce the need to read the passage, and thus make it easier for them to save time.

Families and students must remember that even if SAT as well as the ACT are required for college applications at the top schools but they are by no not the sole or the most crucial factor for admission. While a high score can demonstrate that a student is prepared for the demands of college and could be the basis of an effective application but it’s the narrative that students tell through the application which will get them admitted into Ivy League and other top schools. So, even though applicants should try to get the best scores they can, failing to meet just a bit short of their goals is not necessarily a reason to disqualify students from being admitted.