I am an international student and being able to do the SAT exams will be quite challenging. Does not doing the exam put me at a disadvantage? And if so what should I work on to supplement the exam?
Hi there! For many schools, standardized tests like the SAT play an important role in the holistic admissions process. In general, taking and doing well on these exams will strengthen your application. However, some schools are test optional, meaning that you do not need to submit scores for these tests to complete your application. At these schools, we still recommend taking the SAT and sending the scores unless you have an otherwise exceptionally strong profile, you are a legacy or recruited athlete, you have extenuating circumstances, or you're an in-state student applying to a public university. (In general, we say that you will get into a school despite not having test scores rather than because you omitted them).
In the time of the pandemic, a large subset (nearly all) schools were temporarily test optional this past year, and some have already committed to maintaining that policy for the upcoming 2021-2022 cycle (e.g. Yale). For these types of situations, you do not need to submit SAT scores and not submitting will not hurt your application, but if you have the option to submit strong scores, this will still definitely be a point in your favor.
It depends on what types of colleges you are looking at.
Many who are looking at Ivy League's (search up US News and World Top 20 colleges if you want a better idea), basically follow under the philosophy of "DO ALL THE OPTIONALS". This is a good mindset if you are applying to those colleges but not if you are applying elsewhere.
This is where I recommend you have a college list. What happens from here is dictated from here.
Colleges that are a Target/ Long Reach (or have a 30% or lower acceptance rate), try to do the SAT if you score in their 25% percentile (search up college name then "Common Data Set"). Now, this is assuming there will be an opportunity to take the SAT. If you cannot take the SAT, try to do more prestigious activities. Organize a community service event, apply to international competitions, etc, etc. When considering activities, try to shoot for rarity if you are applying to really competitive schools. Try to also do the optional essays and include a reason why you couldn't in the Additional Info section of the common app. This gives Admissions a much more complete picture of you.
When applying to colleges with acceptance rates beyond 40%, then it is completely fine to not have SAT scores.
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