The “New” SAT

Assuming you don’t live under a rock, you’re somewhat aware that the college world is thrashing through some big ol’ changes as we speak.

To wit:  extended deadlines, more negotiations, haggling and bribes to come for 2020 kids.

And, for children graduating in 2021, there’s also a lot up in the air:

  • Will their be fewer seats available in college next year due to 2020 students deferring spots previously allocated to the Class of 2021?
  • Can they just blow off the SAT or ACT altogether?
  • Or are standardized test scores still a major deciding factor for merit aid?

Nobody knows how this will all pan out, but I’ll share my current thoughts.  If you’re game.

WARNING:  I’m going to cause some people’s undies to bunch up, ESPECIALLY parents of kids who have high grades and low test scores…who don’t realize that the high GPA indicates more about the school’s policy to inflate grades to keep parents happy, than it reflects a child’s academic ability.

Still with me?  OK, here’s today’s lesson.

I AM concerned that it will be at least slightly harder to get into college for 2021 grads, due to fewer available seats.

Not to mention fewer overall colleges to chose from, as many will shut their doors for good.  But I don’t yet have a feel for whether it will be marginally harder to get into college, or significantly more difficult.

Re:  SAT and ACT.  Recently, a couple dozen colleges announced that they are going temporarily test-optional due to Coronavirus cancelling all those testing dates  But what does this mean for the Class of 2021?

Alas, it’s not a game changer. 

My bold prediction: average SAT/ACT scores at competitive colleges next year will remain the same.

I’m not really going out on a limb here, I’m merely looking at numbers reported by colleges that went test-optional in the past, and making the easy assumption that it will be more of the same, i.e. no change.

Here’s a fun exercise:

Pretend you’re an admissions officer. What would you assume, if an applicant didn’t turn in SAT or ACT scores.  I’ll give you a choice.  Is it:

A:  Wow! This applicant must have scored so high that they didn’t submit their scores, so they wouldn’t seem like a show off!  Let’s admit him!

B:  This child must have scored below our published range.

My advice:  if you have an average or above average score for a particular college, submit your SAT and ACT.  It can only help get in, and get money at that school.

Which brings me to my next point:  merit aid.

Most college scholarships are predicated on two things: GPA and standardized test scores.   Whether or not you or I think this is fair, incidentally.  It’s just how it works.

So to give yourself the best shot at merit aid, do NOT go test-optional.  Sign up for the makeup tests that the College Board and ACT are releasing, any day, for August and September, even October.

Final point:  if a college admissions office deemphasizes or completely looks past an SAT or ACT score, that makes the REST of the application more important.  Especially recommendations, and of course, the essays and the Activities section, which not only should proffer, “This is how I’m DIFFERENT than my 5,000-90,000 competitor-applicants,” but also accomplish one more mission-critical task:

Reveal the applicant’s CHARACTER.

Specifically, traits such as initiative, perseverance, contribution and others along those lines.   This is more important than ever in our post-Felicity environment, which is why I’ve been going around saying “Character is the new SAT” til I’m blue in the face.

If you want help putting together the college applications this summer, registration is open for our 5th annual “Incomparable Applicant” essay and application boot camps, which I’ve just tweaked in response to a few questions.  You get:

  • “Insider Kick Off Session”:  Admission to our bonus live, client-only, prompt-by-prompt dissection by a former college admissions officer at an “Ivy Plus” college and yours truly of the Common App essay and common supplemental essay topics, scheduled for May 13.  We’re starting early this year, to get kids drafting.  Big time-saver and confusion-saver!  (Recorded if you can’t make it.)
  • Live Instruction, Brainstorming, Editing. Attendance at one of four scheduled sessions (assume virtual), listed on the page below.  Each student has personal 1:1 interaction, editing, brainstorming, with us. (Additional sessions 50% off.)
  • You Can Run But You Can’t Hide. Post Boot Camp accountability call and complementary review of essays and applications produced at in the live session.

(If you’re a private 1:1 college advisory client, everything above is free and you’ve been notified separately 🙂

For all others, we’re running a $200 “Scholarship” incentive promo, valid for for four more days.

Use the coupon code 2020BOOTCAMP on this page (make sure you see the price change before checking out):

-Andy “Drop And Give Me 20…Verbs!” Lockwood

P.S.  If you want more help, i.e 1:1 advising, reply to this email ASAP,  capacity limited.

Leave a Comment