The Ultimate Guide to Test Optional Admissions

Recorded Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 11:00 PM

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About this livestream


Learn about test-optional policies and whether it makes sense to apply to colleges without an SAT or ACT.

More than 100 colleges have adopted a test-optional admissions policy in the wake of the coronavirus, allowing students to submit an application without an SAT or ACT score. Our founder Vinay Bhaskara will summarize the recent changes to test-optional policies, and provide advice on whether you should consider applying to your top choice schools without an SAT or ACT score.

We’ll also open up the floor for a Q&A session to answer any and all questions about test-optional policies and standardized test strategy in college admissions.

Video Transcript:


All right, so it looks like folks can hear me. Okay, so we're gonna go ahead and get started. Thank you for everyone's patience. And thanks for joining us today. So obviously, I know a lot of you are very concerned about the test optional admissions policies that have been rolling out around the country. And before we get into that, I do want to quickly introduce myself, my name is Vinay bhaskara. I am one of the cofounders of CollegeVine. And I'm also our head of admissions, advising and data. And so what Yeah, the reason we're having this procedure today is, we recently took a look at some of the data that we have from all the students in our system, as well as some of the data that's out there available more broadly. And then we also talked to a few admissions officers to put together some guidelines and thoughts on how you should think about test optional admissions policies, right. I'm sure many of you are very, very stressed about this. We've talked to a lot of families, obviously, and even, you know, school guidance counselors, and everyone pretty much agrees that the test optional policies are really, really worrisome for a lot of folks. So I'm gonna start by walking through just you know, what the data says about the software policies, and what our overall advice is as CollegeVine. And then I'm gonna open it up to q&a, because I know a lot of you are going to be very sort of focused or very interested in asking questions.


So I think with that, let's go ahead and get started. So the first thing to understand obviously, is that, you know, there are more than 400 colleges who have announced test optional admissions policies for this upcoming admission cycle. And by the way, there's a handout that's gonna be on the screen right here. It's a post that I wrote up for the community over on Reddit, just to kind of share this information with, you know, with as many students as possible. And so we're going to be referring referencing this as we go through today's presentation. So more than 400 colleges have announced test optional policies for one year only, during this fall, as a result of obviously, the testing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. And these types of policies are usually referring to the SAT or the ACT, basically, you don't have to take an SAT, or ACT to be able to qualify for these schools. In normal years, these four hundreds of schools would have test required policies, which means that you are required to sort of complete the SAT or the ACT in order to gain admission to the university. Right. So, you know, this is a difference, obviously, in their approach. Right now, in addition to these 400 schools, there's also close to 800 schools that already had test optional admissions policies. Right. So the strategy here is both for the schools that are test optional for the first time this year, and also for the schools that have historically had the test optional policies. Okay. Right. And now, as I wrote here, in this in this, you know, post, I do want to give a disclaimer, which is that obviously, what I'm sharing with you right now, is my current point of view, based on the best information available to me at this moment, right? So my advice, or my strategy, or my perspective, is going to change if things continue to change with testing in, you know, the rest of this fall as the pandemic continues in America, right. So obviously, you know, you want to with a grain of salt that this may change, and my advice may change over time. But as of right now, here's kind of the best advice that I have for all of you out there.


Okay. So let's start with a very high level strategy. So if you are really rushed for time, or you need to go grab dinner, whatever, if you just pay attention, these next two minutes, or this next minute and a half, you're going to be good to go as far as just knowing the basic strategy. And then you can always follow up by checking out this Reddit post down a lot. But basically, here is the very high level advice that I have for all of you out there. In terms of test optional strategy, basically, look up. So So the way you want to think about this is you want to choose whether or not to submit your test scores to a school using some of the data that exists from that college. And in particular, what you're going to want to do is you're going to want to look up the 25th to 75th, percentile, SAT, and ACT scores for accepted students, right. These are what the historical averages are for students to get accepted. So for example, a school might have a 25-75 percentile, AC t range of a 31 to a 35. That means that the, you know, up to 100 students that get accepted 75 of them have a score above 31 and 25 of them have a score of 35 or higher, right. So the middle 50%. Okay, now, these are the data or sorry, the scores rather, that students use to apply successfully in the past. But this year with the pandemic test scores in the applicant pool are actually a little bit lower. So Our advice for this year is, if you have an SAT score, and you're applying to a test optional school, and that SAT score is within 60 points of that 25th percentile score. So say, for example, that the middle 50 range is a, you know, 1250 to a 1400. Right? If your score is an 1190 or higher, my recommendation is that you actually submit that test score, because because this, the scores are lower this year than normal, you're going to benefit from submitting that test score. Similarly, if you have an ACT score, right, you're going to want to submit it as long as you're within three points of that 25th percentile score, right. So say, for example, the 20% percentile is a, you know, a 28 to 32, as long as your scores a 25 or higher, submit the score, and you'll get a benefit from it, right? Now, if you don't meet this minimum standard. So within 60 points, or the 25th percentile for SAT within three points of the 25th percentile for ACT, if you don't meet those minimum requirements, my recommendation is to apply test optional, right. So when a school has a test, optional policy, right, you want to apply with a test score if you have it, unless you are below those numbers that I just discussed. Now, obviously, if you don't have an SAT or a ACT score, and you won't have an opportunity to take one, before you apply this fall, then you're going to have to apply that option. And we'll talk about the best ways to do that a little bit down line. But just you know, if you do have a test, you may still want to consider applying test optional in certain circumstances that I just laid out. Okay. So that's my basic advice, if you want to leave right now. And you know, just just think on that advice in that strategy, that's totally fine. And I'm actually going to drop all of you a, you know, a link to this post right here that I'm referring to, if you want to read along and follow along with me, right? This is a post that I wrote up on Reddit to kind of share our perspective and our strategy with the broader community of students that are applying to college. So I'm going to go ahead and share that with all of you right now. So you'll see that pop up on your screen very shortly, you can basically click that link and get access to the same post. Apologies, one second, there's a bit of a sound plug once I can do take care of that.


Alright, folks, sorry about that. So we had a quick bug with the sound. And now we are back again. Right. So let's keep going here. Right. So we talked a little bit about just sort of the general notion of the, you know, when you should be submitting a standardized test. Now let's actually take a step back and understand why colleges have created these test optional policies in the first place. Right. So obviously, in the middle of the pandemic, because of the pandemic, many colleges have switched to these test optional policies, right, because of testing disruptions due to the virus, right. But even you know, prior to pandemic, like I said, close to a third of all the undergraduate colleges in the US had test optional policies already. And this included a few selective colleges like you, Chicago or Bowden. Right. And so in general, colleges have two main goals they're trying to achieve with test optional policies. Right. Goal number one is they're trying to increase the number of people that apply to the college. Right? So at selective colleges, what this will do is it allows them to bring their acceptance rate down, right. So if you get more applications from students who you're going to reject Anyway, you bring your application, your acceptance rate down, which makes you know, students think that you're more prestigious, right? It's kind of a little bit a little bit tricky, honestly, right? At non selective colleges, right colleges that have an acceptance rate above, you know, 35 40%, even at those schools, right, they're just trying to increase the number of kids They're enrolled in their school, right? They're genuinely trying to increase enrollment, and they're generally trying to be more accessible to students. Right. So, you know, they're the increase in application volume is kind of the number one reason that colleges into my test optional policies, but they're using it for different reasons. And there's still a gap between, you know, allowing you to apply to the school VHS optional, and who actually gets accepted.


Okay, the second goal that colleges have with test optional policies, is they offer a way of, you know, a way for colleges to bring in students that have other sort of profile traits that they want that, you know, they consider desirable. So stuff like, you know, being from a certain geographic area, or being from a demographic group or the college wants to increase on its campus, right? What test optional policies allow you to do is they allow you to accept more students from those, you know, that have those treats, who have lower test scores, right. And what this does is it protects that statistic that we talked about earlier, the middle 50% test score statistic, right. And so coders actually care a lot about that middle 50% test score statistic. And the reason they care a lot about it is it's used in rankings, like the US News rankings, right? So the test scores of the student body affect the college's prestige and ranking. So a lot of test optional policies are in part a way for the college to kind of like, manage that ranking, and make sure that they do well in the US News rankings, even as they're accepting students that have other traits that they're kind of going for, right? Whether that's, you know, student athletes, or, you know, legacy students or so on. Right. So test optional policies are, you know, not only are they a way to increase that volume, they're also a way for colleges to kind of massage and not lie, but massage and sort of, you know, play around with their test scores statistics, right? Finally, colleges actually get a kind of positive PR for having because after policies on paper, right, I'm sure you've seen many of those news articles during this presentation cycle. But despite the positive PR, that colleges are receiving, oftentimes, they don't actually run a truly test optional admissions process, which is to say that they allow you to apply without a test, but they still overwhelmingly accept students that have a test. So it's actually take a look at what that data is like, right? So in short, right, like, if you boil it down, colleges aren't lying. But the vast majority of students that can often cause except still have a standardized test, right. And so the way I kind of I kind of analyze this is I took a random sample of 25,000 students in our, you know, CollegeVine, you know, platform that uses Collegevine's platform, and analyze their admissions results after they apply pass optional. And what I did to make sure this is a a sort of fair test is I looked at students have the same kind of geographic backgrounds, so from the same part of the country, and the same, you know, demographic backgrounds, which is a, the same sort of socioeconomic status, and so on, as well as race and gender and etc. And then I also looked at students with similar non test profiles. So other than the test look for kids that had similar GPAs, similar extracurricular profiles in terms of like strength, and, and, you know, area of focus, similar, you know, course profiles in terms of the level of difficulty of courses that they took, so held all of that constant. And then I broke students into three different categories and look at the differences in acceptance rate. So basically, for students where everything else was pretty much the same, right, I look at kids, students that applied with a test score that was above the 25th percentile for acceptance to ace, you know, students where they applied with a test score that was below that 25th percentile, and students that applied test option, right. And so as you'd expect, right, students that had a score above the 25th percentile really outperform the test optional kids historically, right? You know, the acceptance rate was about twice as high. So if out of you know, say 50 students who applied, you know, test optional to a school, say that 10 of them, if you'd like to apply to this, by the 25th percentile, and 10 of the test optional, kids got in, usually, on average about gotten in, right, your chances of admission would have roughly doubled if you had a test score above the 25th percentile, versus if you apply conceptional. So that's a pretty expected result, right? You'd expect you know that someone who has a really good test score, plus a great application versus someone with a great application and no test score, the great application plus test score is going to do better. But the really interesting result that we found is that even you know, if you applied with a test score below the 25th percentile, right? You if you applied with a test score, that was below that 25th percentile, you still have to have a higher chance of admission, right? So you know, if say, 10% of the kids that applied test optional, got in 12 and a half percent or about 1.2 times. You know, the kids with a test score below the 25th percentile. Got it. So applying with a bad test score, maybe not a horrible test score, a bad test score was actually still going to give you a higher acceptance rate than applying with no test score, right? So historically, right colleges have really not been truly test optional, right?


The minute you apply without a test score, you're put at a severe disadvantage. The other thing I looked at was kind of the more broad data beyond these 20,000 profiles. What does it look like across all colleges. And so, you know, according to the broader data, right, at test optional schools that are selected, which means that they have a below 33% chance of admission of sorry, Blue 33% acceptance rate, right? Something like 94% of the kids that got accepted to those test, optional schools had an SAT or an ACT, right. across all of the 750 schools that had a test optional policies prior to 2020. About 83% of the accepted students got, you know, had an SAT or an ACT score, and even at schools with a acceptance rate higher than 80%. Still, like 66% of kids were applying and submitting an an SAT or ACT score, right? So the historical data suggests that you're going to overwhelmingly, you know, overwhelmingly suggest, rather, that you're going to benefit from applying with a test score, right. So that's kind of historical data sets and the data in college systems as right. Now, another thing to kind of keep in mind. So this is what the historical data says. And so, you know, in general, our recommendation is to try and apply with a test if you can, whether that's because you already have one, or if you plan to take an exam during this fall.


And, you know, hopefully, something that makes me feel a little bit better is, you know, the fact that actually, as I mentioned earlier, test scores have come down a bit in the student population. Right. And what I mean by that is that, you know, this cycle as opposed to previous cycles, the average SAT score of someone applying to any school is actually lower. Right? Um, and so, you know, how much lower in income, what does that look like, I'll talk about how we determine that, right? Basically, to get a sense of what's going on, I took a look at the class of 2020, versus the class of 2021. And I compared the test scores that each group had, at this point in a recent cycle, right, so to get a sense of how much higher were class of 2020 SAT scores in class of 2021. And the reason we, you know, you'd expect class of 2020 SAT scores to be higher, is that class of 2020, at this point, and had multiple chances to take super scored SAT or ACT and get a super score, or, you know, a highest for each section combined, that was higher, right. Whereas in class of 2021, even if you're lucky enough to have a test, usually, it's only going to be, you know, one test that you're working with, right. So, um, you know, that's kind of the expectation going in, and I went into data. And what I did to make sure it was kind of clean is I made sure that we looked at students based on their GPA. So I kind of clustered based on the GPA to make sure that, you know, we're looking at students on similar academic background, I also, you know, look at students within a particular geography, right, to control for the impact of the pandemic, because obviously, different parts of the country have had different impacts due to COVID-19. Right. And so, what I did this, and I looked at his analysis, right, and you basically look at students who have come from a kind of similar GPA and geography, right? test scores are actually lower, especially when you look at super scores, right? Because for most people, they're, you know, it's their first sitting on the SAT that there'll be submitting, as opposed to, you know, the combination of their first second and third sittings. And so in general, super scored SAT's were about 60 points lower, which is to say that if he, you know, if for a given GPA and geography saying, you know, 3.5 to 3.6 GPA in Texas, right, if last year, those students had an average SAT of 1350. This year, those same students have an average SAT of like, 1290, right, about 60 points lower, not scores were 26 points lower and reading score were 34 points lower sees a bigger impact on the reading side than on the math side. On the ACT super scored ACT's were about three points lower in terms of score, right. And on specific sections. Math was point 4.4 reading was 1.1. point lower, science was point 9.4. And English was point 6.4. So in other words, SAT/ACT scores are lower than they usually are amongst all the applicants that are applying to college alongside all of you, right. So this means that at schools that are going to use that super score, where they take your best section, you know, your best score on each section, regardless of which test date you took it on, right, you can actually safely submit a test, even if your scores a little bit lower than historical averages for students, like we talked about earlier. So if you're, you know, within 60 points or within three points of that 25th percentile, you should strongly consider applying it's optional. Right.


So that's kind of the the sort of backdrop right And now I want to kind of move on to the notion of whether you should plan on taking or retaking SAT this fall, right? So, um, you know, we'll start by talking about a little bit about kind of test option policies and who benefits and who doesn't, right. And so independent of kind of what the overall population of saying and what college is saying, right, you want to keep in mind that different students are going to be treated differently when they apply test optional, right? You know, this obviously seems to seems pretty obvious, right? But if the rest of your profile is just awesome, right, you've got amazing extra activities, you write these incredible compelling, powerful essays, got really, really high GPA and a bunch of AP classes, you're probably gonna be better off applying, because optional, than if you, you know, rush your essays and only get them done at the last minute. And you have, you know, a lower GPA than a lot of the other kids applying to that school, and you have a sort of weaker, sort of attribute profile than a lot of your classmates, right? Obviously, the student who's got a much stronger non test profile is going to be better off when applying test optional. Right. But even beyond that, as we talked about earlier, a lot of colleges use test optional policies as a way to, you know, as a way to bring students who maybe have lower test scores, but have other kind of desirable traits, right? And so, you know, from that perspective, right, if you have a hook or a specific profile trait that colleges really sort of want to recruit more of, right, you're gonna be better positioned to benefit from these as often policies.


Right. And so what are some of those desirable profile traits and hooks? Right? The first, obviously, is if you're from a demographic background that a college is trying to recruit, right. A lot of selective schools, this is sort of, you know, underrepresented minority students, but you know, it really varies, right, there are some schools, you know, a lot of colleges, for example, really, you're trying to recruit more Asian American students, right. So, it really just depends kind of on the school that you're looking at. But in general, if you are from a demographic group, the college is trying to recruit, you can benefit profesorado policies. Similarly, if you're from a target geography, where the college is trying to recruit more students from, you know, some states that some colleges that can be like smaller states, so like a lot of the Ivy's, for example, are trying to get more students from North Dakota and Iowa in the Midwest, right? Meanwhile, at a lot of sort of, you know, that's going to be out of state students, and so on and so forth. So you may be able to benefit a little bit more look at your financial need when they think about your admission, right. Whereas, you know, there's a lot of qualities that are need blind, which means that they look at your admissions and your financial aid decisions separately, right at need aware, we're colleges, if you are a full pay student, you're someone who's going to be paying in full tuition. But high payment per year, right, you're not applying for financial aid, you're trying to increase their diversity and bringing more students were members of the LGBTQ community. So that's another group that kind of could benefit. Right. Another sort of, you know, desirable trait is if you are first generation, right, if you're the first person in your family to attend a four year college, now I get a lot of questions about this from families that have sort of recent immigrant where the you know, maybe the parent is a recent immigrant, right? First generation to colleges, means that you are the first person in your generation to go to college period, not just that you are the first person to go to college in the United States. So for basically, for example, if your parents went to for your undergrad, or have a master's degree, or whatever, from Brazil, or from China, or from El Salvador, or from wherever, you don't really count as first gen in the same way for colleges. Whereas if you sort of, you know, whereas if you if your family has never no one in your family's ever gone to college, then that's where you're going to be. That's where you're going to sort of be a first gen student consider for certain universities, right. And what sort of cohort is if you just have some sort of interesting story, in your admissions process. So basically, if you are sorry, sorry, in your in your life, not not in your best interest to begin, so an interesting life story. So for example, if you're a single parents, it can come from single parent households, or you spent a lot of time, you know, living in a particular part of the world, and so on and so forth. It basically does some sort of interesting life experience is also a factor when it comes to, you know, whether you'll benefit from policies. The converse of this is that if you're a, you know, a typical sort of, you know, middle class, upper middle class applicant from a suburban High School, right, you're going to be less well positioned to benefit from these test optional policies. Right. You know, if you're just sort of a prototypical kind of high school student, you've had a couple of candidates SAT whether it's, you know, in your junior fall or your senior Spring, right, you're going to be much less well positioned particularly at those selective colleges that we've talked about before. Right? So, in general, right, if you are kind of a typical student without one of those hooks that I talked about, the tests are a lot more critical for you than they are for someone else. Right. And so as we talked about earlier, if you're applying as optional, you ideally want to have a sort of non test profile that's very, very strong. What does that mean? Right? Well, you know, you're going to be better positioned to fires off. Now, if you have a GPA that's really high above the 70 percentile, for example, you're really welcome to use a strong extracurricular profile. And, you know, and so on, right now, one wants me out of your control. But the one thing that you're going to be able to do this year really, really well is aim for a is basically aim for, you know, really, really strong essays, if you write just completely awesome, unbelievable, amazing essays. You know, that's going to position you really, really, really well, when you're applying test optimal to meet actually mission critical when you're applying test optimal to have really awesome essays.


So with all this in mind, should you end up retaking the SAT, or the ACT this fall? Like, is that something that you should plan on doing this fall? Honestly, the answer depends, right? Obviously, at a very high level, right? Do what makes you safe, right. So if you're in a situation where someone in your household is immunocompromised or older, earned some sort of risk for the Coronavirus, right. And your you know, town or your community also has had many outbreaks or, you know, so on, or is in the midst of an outbreak, right? You know, maybe maybe you'll be careful at that point, right? It's not, it's not worth your family's health. And obviously, we'll talk about how you can communicate colleges about this decision that you made, right, which is, Hey, you know, I have someone who's immunocompromised in my household. And so I chose not to do that. Right. But it is generally safe to do so right, I would recommend taking the SAT or the ACT this fall, right? Because taking the test gives you an option, right? If you don't do well, you can always apply this option. But if you don't take the test, you might miss out on a potential boost to your application. Right. So, you know, obviously, with the caveat that you want to be safe, and you want to try taking the test is safe for both you and your loved ones. With that caveat in mind, you know, my recommendation is to try and take or retake the test, if it is not canceled in your sort of, in your community, or in your school district or wherever.


Okay, now, so that's through my general advice on retaking security, etc. So I'm gonna quickly grab a drink of water. And then we'll move on to talking about this in your application and how to communicate about this in your application. And as I'm reading through the water, I'm just gonna re send out the, I want to be sending out the link to this Reddit post that I've been, you know, using to communicate and kind of share all our information about consumption policies. So yeah, you should see that link to the Reddit post pub on your screen very shortly. Okay, great.


Okay, so now, let's say that for whatever reason, you're choosing to apply cuts optional. Maybe it's because obviously, you've had a lot of disruptions to test optional in your community. Right? Okay. So you got a lot of a lot of challenges conceptional wise, and so, you know, you haven't been able to take the test in your community. Okay. If that is the case, it is very, very important that you communicate this to colleges, and you can communicate the reasons why whether those reasons are passing was cancelled in my community, or the reason was, Hey, I didn't feel safe, because I live my grandparents, my parents, I live with whoever, and I wasn't able to take the test safely. Regardless of what the reasons are. You wants to make sure that you communicate to colleges, you know, sort of why and how you've gone to test optional policies, or sorry, why and how you're buying cars optional, and the kind of the rationale for that. And so there's two steps that you need to take in order to get this house. Step number one is, you need to share a brief chronology of the tests that you were, you know, planning on taking, and kind of why you didn't undertaking them, whether they've cancelled or you chose not to, for health reasons, right. And you just share this information on your application to colleges. Right now on the common app, what you're gonna do is you're gonna use the additional information section and I'll walk you all through How you can do that in a bit. Whereas on the on, you know, other sort of applications, right, you're gonna have to figure out what the boxes if there is no box for sharing additional information or context, you want to make sure you email the admissions officers at the school, ideally, whoever is responsible for your region of the country, right, that's who you want to reach out to via email or via some sort of sort of communication, you want to reach out to them about this question and about, you know, and share the context for why your opponent is, okay. Right. And it's very critical that you do this in response to the additional information section, not in response to the COVID. A lot of people make the mistake of writing medicine, the coton shots of the COVID prompt. And the reason you don't want to do that is the COVID prompt is really supposed to be about kind of impacts to you and your families, you know, health or economics or you know, mental health, right, it's really meant to be about kind of material negative impacts, not impacts your education or to your, you know, impacts your education or to your extra activities, right, it's really supposed to COVID problems resulting in these big material impacts, the sort of additional info information sections where you can share details about loss opportunities, and so on. So that's sort of the, you know, that's kind of the first piece in terms of your outbound communication. The second piece in terms of communication is you want to make sure that your school counselor, or your guidance counselor, also writes about this in their recommendation letter. So you want your school counselor or your guidance counselor to say, Hey, you know, student's own self was not able to take an SAT or an ACT, because of cancellations or because of health reasons, in our, you know, part of the country. Um, so please keep that in mind. If they sort of write that into a lot of information, that's going to help kind of validate your decision not to apply or sort of to apply it as optional, right? Let's start with that. Trying to get rid of this ad here. Okay. Finally, the last piece is, you know, what about SAT twos and AP exams as SAT IIs and AP exam? Sorry, right. So SAT twos AP exams are not really going to matter if it's upcoming admission cycle, and actually kind of out of their, on their way out and admissions process. Anyway, right? Now, there's really only 30 schools or so where the SAT two still matters. And in normal years, the schools, as he SAT IIs are actually more of what you'd call an 80. You know, where good scores are necessary, but not sufficient than a competitive advantage, right. But the honest truth is that most of the colleges that use SAT IIs in a normal cycle are actually SAT II blind this year, which means they're not going to look at your SAT IIs. So honestly, I would recommend just not even taking SAT IIs or taking on this wall, there's just not any value to you, you're better off either taking a retaking fit, or just, you know, you know, spending your time with nails, right? AP exams, just actually really not ever mattered all that much additional profit in the first place, right? AP classes actually matter a lot, because AP classes are sort of, you know, how colleges determine your academic ability level. But AP exams really have never mattered to too much to colleges, right. And the only reason which are important is if your your high school has like a super atypical grading system, where it's hard for colleges to get a sense of your ability level. But, you know, absent that AP exams are really not that useful in a normal cycle. And they're going to be particularly useless during this application cycle, because of sort of the Almighty AP exams and all the problems that they had this past May. So yeah, in general, I wouldn't worry about ice cubes and AP exams.


Alright, folks. So with that, let's go ahead and wrap up our, you know, main presentation for today. I'm gonna send the link out to this Reddit post one more time. And then I'm actually going to set some time and walk through some q&a. Before I get to q&a. I do want to share a couple of resources that either mentioned or discussed during today's presentation. So give me a minute to just quickly get that set up and share my screen with you and then we'll go ahead and share the resources and then we'll move into q&a. All right.


Hey everyone, sorry about sorry about all that we ended up Thames. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. But I'm going online. Okay. Cool.


Alright folks, sorry about that I really do apologize for for what just happened there, essentially my entire computer screen. Basically my entire computer crashed along with my Wi Fi. So I'm really, really sorry about that. But now we're going to be able to move forward and grab the and deal with the q&a. So again, apologies about all of that. Alright, so in the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to enter those into the q&a box. And I'll be going ahead and getting, you know, taking care of any questions. If you have any questions, please enter them into the q&a box. Because my computer did get that reset, I do need you to re enter your questions into the q&a box and I'll be able to answer all of them for you.


So yeah, if you have any questions, please feel free to enter them into the q&a box and then we'll go ahead and tackle those questions.


Sorry, folks, we're just getting set up so that I can see the q&a then we'll go ahead and get moving. Oh, geez.


All right, finally. Okay, here we go. Alright, so the first question we have is, do you think the student if a student applies has option for college, they can still receive merit scholarships? Yes, but I do think that you'll have a lower chance of receiving merit scholarships than if you apply with a test, right? Historically, colleges have given a lot more money to students with testing without tests. And I think that, in general, there is still a possibility to are there still a possibility to sort of get merit scholarships?


Next question is, Are there no essays that are This year, there are still a couple of schools that will consider your SATs every test, but in general, most colleges are not going to be looking at them. So yes, I would say no. This year.


Next question is what is vassers policy in 2021. Their website says that's optional. But in California, the courts have ruled that UCS must go test blind due to students with special needs. Well, colleges like Vassar go test blind for restricted seats, where testing has not been available to you to code concerns. So as of right now, we think that schools that are test optional, are going to stay test optional. Just because, you know, the majority of the country is going to be test optional. And do keep in mind that the California courts are around the University of California system, which is a public college, they're not really able to do the same thing to private colleges as of yet. So for right now, most private colleges we think will still be test optional.


Next question, Does our score on the essay portion matter at all? Should we take it? In general, you should take it if a college on your list requires it. But the score in this essay has not really mattered for a while now.


Okay, next question. My daughter took her second SAT day after she was released from a 14 day quarantine for COVID-19. She had been caught in quarantine because her mom had tested positive for 20 days earlier. This was a very stressful time. And while she does not have a SAT score, yet she fears it will not meet where she needs to be. Should she send a note to colleges explaining the situation or that just look like an excuse? I would send a note to colleges, just because, you know, being in COVID-19 quarantine does make things a little bit harder, right, especially if you're worried about potentially getting covid or worried about your parents. So I would say yes, I would have I would definitely keep you know. Keep that in mind and and right. share that information with colleagues.


Next question. Can we submit our scores after submitting the application? Yes, you apply and then you send in your official scoreboard from the College Board separately. You don't want to wait too long, but you can take a few days afterwards.


Do you need to report my SAT scores I took in eighth grade, they were pretty low or just send my super score. No, you don't need to report anything before ninth grade. Now there are some colleges that were required to report all of your essays in high school. But anything in middle school is not. You don't have to apply.


Next question is how can we locate an institution's middle 50%? SAT score? wasn't a great question. So what you can do is you can actually find that information at CollegeVine. And so the way that you do that is just give me one second here. I'm going to quickly share my screen and show you all how to do that. Okay, so in collegevine I actually do is you can click through to schools, you know, just look for a school that you're interested in. So for example, let's say that you want to take a look at Vassar. Right? Oh, so yeah, let's see what people will get ambassadors for you to find schools. [email protected] This is after you've logged in, basically take a look at Vassar College, in this case, right? And then you click over to this tab called chancing and you can take a look at the middle 50% SAT score for all students right so in this case, it's a 16 equals to 1370 to a 1510 and then for students from your background the typical exception from all backgrounds 1440 to 15 3030 to 15. Right. Um So you find that for the SAT for the ACT if you take that exam as well as for GPA You can find this all at in your logged in view.


Okay, next question here is on seconds. Sorry, pulling the question q&a back. Okay. Do you have any thoughts on trying to take advantage of early decision I higher chances and more money offered versus still waiting for test option we are in Georgia a high potency and test eight seven kids so each one since February. So we checked the test coming soon on box in the CommonApp but nothing's ever happens or sports port they suspend patient enrolled in it has optional. If you don't ever submitted a test score to the school though roll it and it is optional. So I would think about applying Ed, you'll get a bit of an advantage this year.


Next question, how will UCs decide on merit scholarships as SAT test scores this year? Well, they're gonna put more weight on your GPA. But a lot of students have similar GPAs. So really, it's going to end up boiling down to SAT, it's going to really end up boiling down to, to your, to your high your essays and your extra activities.


Next question, if you get your college and don't submit, well colleges know that you took it and choose not to send. No, not unless you report it to them. Right. If you don't report it to the college's you, you literally, you know, you literally won't have they won't have any way of knowing that you didn't score. Take Take sorry, agents were wrong. The other college the colleges have no way of seeing through the College Board what tests you took?


Next question, have you heard that there's a chance of the UC and CSU schools will reverse their decision to be test blind? As of right now? No, I'm just because, you know, they it's a court order. So it would actually need to be something that a higher level of court reverses, right. But as of right now, it's a court order. So they're unlikely to be allowed to, to just sort of flip back to test. You know, that's optional.


Okay, next question as our practice exports have been low, so what's better skipping the test altogether, making code work to our advantage or take a less than stellar score? Um, if the scores are genuinely low, I would just skip all together.


Okay, next question here is, what about test blind we'll call this truly be test blinds here. Students test scores. If the college says they'll be test blind, they're just going to throw out your SAT score. So if they're testing blind, it was optional. I would definitely just, you know, I would I would definitely just stay test wide. Sorry, sorry. Sorry, I would just assume that you're not gonna get any benefit from testing.


Okay, next question. Asian American female actually mixed Caucasian, Asian 4.2 weighted GPA out of 4.33 Max 1400 SAT nurses that are test five on AP US history five on AP enviro on a AP, four on AP English language and composition. On my ar 15. Harvard, what are the densities in AP? Should I submit unlikely that'll be able to see and for the deadline, I would read the 14 IDs at skip the AP exams, you're not gonna get much benefit or much sort of a ding from that either way.


Okay, if I'm taking the ACT ones, we will go test after school, how would I go about explaining that? Just don't submit the test to the college and they'll treat you as if that's awful school.


Next question is canceled flights fantastic. Current scores are zero. How does that affect scholarship considerations? Because we're applying on state your choice of major not being offered at home. Unfortunately, it will probably affect you a little bit, just in terms of the you know, not having a test, unfortunately. So that's something to keep in mind. But if you truly haven't had an ability to take a test, you need to make sure you're communicating that to colleges.


Next question, what if many students at your school back take tests and did well before covered but your child only got to take it once and scored lower? Should you still send it if within the 25th percentile? Won't they be disadvantaged but other students who got higher scores from earlier retakes? Yes, you'll get a little bit of a disadvantage. But keep in mind that you're not just competing with your high school. You're competing with your students from around the country. And so as long as you're above the 25th percentile historically, you should be in good shape when compared to other students from around the country.


Next question, I'm applying for BSMD program. My ACT is a 31 and I'm a semi finalist for the PSAT Should I submit my att score? Yes, I would recommend submitting your ACT score is a 31.


If the SAT with essay is no longer being offered due to cancellations and the AC such as Subject Tests have test dates open in the fall, should I just do the ACT subject test instead? No, I would definitely still take PSAT even if it's without the essay.


Next question is the ACT on November on October 24 to 24th to late for November 1 early admission? No, you you're still able to apply when the November 1 to October 1 deadline to October 24 test. Next question, does the 60 points below the college's 25% SAP score apply to top 20 colleges as well? Yes, yes, it does.


Next question here. Should we I plan on applying ear ed to some colleges, but I have not been able to do so yet to take an SAT yet due to the cancellation? Does that mean that other students who are applying early and have an SAT score will have an advantage over me? Yes, probably, you can overcome that with completely awesome essays and some luck, but they will probably have a bit of an advantage over the


next question. I took the SAT last September and scored a 1500. Does that match up with Harvard and Dukes requirements for this year? Yeah, 1500 is gonna be pretty solid for Harvard and Duke.


Next question here are students requiring them to wear a mask when taking an AC t test this fall? And it hasn't been I just think it will be really uncomfortable to take a three hour test with the mask on and will negatively impact my performance. Yes, most testing centers are going to be requiring you to wear a mask. So if you're worried about that, you might want to practice taking an SAT at home with a mask so that way, you know sort of what's going on.


Next question, I scored a 1320 on my Sep December but conducted the march June and August as easy as they were canceled. I rented for September as I know I can do better if I score higher. Should I listed 10 chronology. The test kits are linear in the additional information section. Yeah, you can it's just not gonna be that impactful since you will have a test score to submit.


Okay, last couple of questions. All right, need aware colleges are those colleges that take your ability to pay out of pocket as opposed to be in financial aid into account when offering an extending an offer admission? That is correct. Yes. Then you know where college looks at your ability to pay when they choose whether or not to accept?


Next question concerning the new law pass ordering the UC stopping the use of ACT and SAT. Can you shed some light on this? Yes, absolutely. So basically, with the with the UC system, what happened is a court in California has said that, since there have been significant testing disruptions right to, you know, the SAT and the ACT, the UC and CSU schools are not allowed to use them in the admissions process period. For this admission cycle, it's not the case that they're never allowed to use them. It's just that this year because testing accommodations have been disrupted by the pandemic, they're not allowed to use them for this admission cycle. So basically, if you're mindful UC or CSU school, you won't be able to use an SAT or an ACT.


All right. Next question here. Time again, like I said, for a couple more questions. First question. Does being in the 75th percentile SAT score help you more? Or is that just number to move on to the next round of holistic reviewing like in like in high schools? Yeah, being a hierarchy score is still going to help you right being at the center of the percentile is better than the 25th. It tends to level off though. And what I mean by that is that like, the benefit you get from going from C to Z, or the 10th percentile to the 30th percentile is a lot higher than 30 to 50. S, which is again, a lot higher from fifth and 50th is anything. I was looking for any additional questions here.


Okay, last question that we'll be answering today. Do you recommend taking the SAT or ACT writing exam? As of right now, I I don't like obviously, if you can take it and you can do okay, like that's fine, but you're not gonna get much benefit from it, unless you're applying to a school that so for some reason requires an SAT or ACT with essay. If they don't require it, it's probably not worth taking.


Alright folks, with that, that's going to go ahead and wrap up our presentation for today. Sorry for all the technical difficulties. And I apologize for the delay. Thank you for all of you who stuck around. And I do really appreciate all of you for joining us. I'll send the link to the Reddit post one more time so that you can have access to that. And then we're gonna go ahead and wrap up today's edition. Thank you everyone and see tuned for future live streams from CollegeVine

Your host

Undergrad College: University of Chicago

Major: Economics

Work Experience: As a Co-Founder of CollegeVine, I lead the data science and admissions curriculum teams. I have worked with thousands of students and families over the course of 8 years. I have also spent time as a senior analyst in aviation operations, strategy, and marketing.


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