sat test
You may not need to take the SAT test to apply to a US university next year. Source: Joe Raedle/AFP

Planning to study at a US university next year? Worried about what sort of SAT test scores you’re going to get? Here is one silver lining among the COVID-19 gloom and doom — you’ll likely not need to submit  your SAT or ACT test scores in your university application this year.

The New York Times reported that given the disruption and sudden transition to online learning in secondary schools around the world, a growing number of US universities such as the University of California system, Harvard University and Cornell University are waiving standardised testing requirements for 2021 applicants.

According to a statement by Cornell University released on April 22, “We can’t pre-define in absolute, comprehensive terms what economic or personal disruptions will look like. We don’t plan to require any students to justify their reasons for not submitting test results, though we will hope to partner with applicants and their advocates throughout the reading period in order to understand each applicant’s circumstances.”

“Students who have taken a test, or even more than one test, but would still prefer not to submit those results, can make that choice.”

The university will instead “consider with increased scrutiny their other application documents,” and will look for other evidence of academic excellence.

This includes looking at whether a candidate took challenging courses or achieved good grades within the context of their secondary school or high school as well as their results from other kinds of secondary, college-preparatory, and university-qualifying testing. They will also look at the “care, craft, and authenticity in their writing submissions,” and, wherever available, details, insight, and analysis from secondary school teachers.

sat test

Save time preparing for the SAT by applying to US universities that are going test-optional next year. Source: Joe Raedle/AFP

Other universities such as those in the California public university system, as well as Williams College, Amherst College, Tufts UnivrsityNortheastern University and Boston University have also announced that they will be going test-optional for applicants enrolling in the 2021 academic year. Others are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

Dean of admission and financial aid at Williams College Liz Creighton said in a statement on April 6, “This is an unprecedented moment for students and colleges alike and it calls for a change to the usual way of doing things.”

The New York Times also pointed out that going test-optional was a growing trend even before the pandemic, where education reform groups have criticised the SAT and ACT because they favour wealthier students, as their families are able to afford prep exams and SAT coaches. A number of higher education universities have already chosen to go test-optional.

So if you’re planning to apply to a US university for the next academic year, check with the university if they are also going test-optional with SAT test scores. It could save you time as well as money spent on SAT application fees.

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