The dust roiled up by the COVID pandemic has certainly not settled. We all – businesses, academic institutions, governments, and individuals- have come to terms with the fact that change is the new order of the day and that this change must be unprecedented and calls upon our best faculties and capacities for survival.
One manifestation of this ‘change’ is the prompt action of many schools (among the top 20 listed on Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges) to adopt a test-optional policy. The change is unprecedented in recent history. At the same time, it is essential to note that this is not a permanent policy status; it is a one-year policy pertinent for those applying in the 2020-2021 application cycle.
What is very important to consider in today’s COVID-created scenario are the implications of ‘test optional’ and ‘test blind.’ The former term means that anyone applying in the 2020-2021 application cycle without a SAT or ACT score will not be disadvantaged. At the same time, do not forget that many applying in this cycle had finished taking the SAT or the ACT by December 2019.
So, although the test requirement is ‘optional’ by ‘new’ standards, the fact remains that the applicant pool will have the early-catch-worm applicants whose profiles are irresistible when admission offers are being sent out. So, a word of caution: if you can take the test and can take it well, do so. Circumventing taking one of these tests is a feel-good thing today, but it may take a toll on the outcome of your application.
Test blind is a more precise term; it means that a particular school does not consider SAT or ACT scores in the review process, and hence, those who submit and those who don’t submit scores can expect to gain or lose little based on these scores. The selections will be made on other criteria. That again is a grey and disputatious area!!!
To get a clear picture of what individual schools have declared as the policy for the 2020-2021 applicants, refer to informative articles such as this one:
Last bit of advice: be and do what you planned to be and do. Applying to competitive schools is not easy, and it will be best to respect the worth of those schools by showing them the best version of yourself in all respects – school grades, international tests, and extracurriculars.
– Dr. Radhika Vikramjeet
Academic Head and Senior Faculty
Option Training Institute, FZ LLC DUBAI