Facebook Live Q&A 9/29 at 9:30 pm ET • Your college admissions questions—answered!  JOIN ME LIVE

What Should Juniors Do About Standardized Tests This Year?

We haven't finished one full admissions cycle in a year dominated by the test optional trend and colleges are already extending and expanding their policies.

Cornell, Penn, Penn State, Rutgers, Baylor, Williams, and Amherst have all announced that the SAT and ACT will not be required for next year, and in some cases, beyond. Get ready. There will be more colleges to follow. (Keep an eye on my Instagram Story for the latest announcements.)

So what does a high school junior do right now? Register for a test, prep, take one (even if it means traveling to get there), or skip it entirely?
 
Here is a plan of action depending on the type of student you are:

1. The Strong Test-Taker

You probably know if you are a strong test-taker. You are that individual who ends up doing well on every standardized test you take. The best thing you can do right now is take a practice SAT and a practice ACT to see which test is better suited for you. Compare your scores. Match up your scores with the middle 50% range of the SAT/ACT for the colleges on your list. If the score on the practice test is already really strong, register for a test, prepare, and take one. Even if it gets canceled, one has to believe tests will be more widely available in the coming months. 
 
By the way, high test scores are always beneficial, especially if the student's scores are higher than the college's average. The only time a high test score wouldn't help a student would be if they are applying to a test blind program or college.

2. The Strong Student

If you tend to do better in your classes at school than you do on standardized tests, consider doing exactly what I recommend the strong test-taker to do above. There's no harm in taking practice tests to see where you stand. And you might want to take all the necessary steps to take the SAT or ACT. But if it doesn't work out or you end up not doing as well on the official test as you hoped, there's a strong chance that most colleges will extend their test optional policies at least for the coming year.
 
With widespread test optional policies, a student could choose not to take the SAT or ACT altogether or they could simply choose not to submit their scores. The beauty of the test optional policy is students have either option.

3. The Student That Falls in the Middle

It is always a good idea to take a practice SAT and practice ACT. You could always take all the necessary steps I mention above. However, investing your time right now in your classes and the activities/experiences that fuel you is probably going to take you farther now and in the admissions process. There is still plenty of time to take a standardized test in the future, if need be.

Free Download: The Junior Guide



Standardized tests are no longer an impediment to applying and attending college. But if you have high scores, use them. If not, don't sweat it. This coming year is about choice. Students will have choices and I want them to use this moment to make the right choice for them.