Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Why Take the SAT/ACT If It's Optional?

Thanks to organizations like The National Center for Fair and Open Testing and folks like John Boeckenstedt, the test-optional movement in college admissions was growing long before the pandemic. 

And now that schools were forced to go test-optional due to the pandemic, this movement is here to stay

So if taking the SAT or ACT is optional, why do it? Applying to college is already overwhelming and stressful. Why add any more to your plate, especially since the SAT and ACT are mental marathons? 

Consider these three highly compelling reasons to still take the SAT or ACT: 

1) Test scores can influence admissions to selective schools: Even though we are not quite at the end of this current admissions cycle, early data shows that test scores are impacting college admissions to selective schools

2) Good test scores can mean more merit-based financial aid: Historically, a good test score meant more merit-based financial aid and there is no reason to suggest that the future will be any different. A college counselor colleague of mine reminds me that "Every 100-point increase on the SAT can mean $10,000 more in aid." This may be a slight oversimplification since the amount of aid obviously depends on both the student's profile and the school under consideration. Nevertheless, the math doesn't lie: higher test scores means more merit-based aid opportunities. 

3) Submission is optional, but you can still take the tests: For schools that remain test-optional, the option is for the student to submit a score. In other words, a student can still take the test and then, depending on the results, opt to submit a score. So you may as well take the test to see if the score is competitive. If the score is competitive, then be sure to submit. And if not, then simply don't. 

In all, the test-optional movement benefits both students and colleges. Students can now take the test stress-free but they should still take the test. Even post-pandemic, more admissions offers and more financial aid will go to students with higher test scores. 

So exercise your option! You have nothing to lose. 

And if you need help preparing for test day and exploring all options, contact CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for academic tutoring and test prep. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

March Madness by Cost of Attendance

The annual NCAA basketball tourney will soon tip off. And so begins the scramble to fill out brackets and predict a winner. 

But instead of picking winners based on rankings or records, what if you picked winners based on the Cost of Attendance (COA)

Thanks to the folks at Columbia Threadneedle Investments--with whom I have no individual connection nor experience doing business with--you can do just that. 

Check out the March Madness bracket based on COA they put together here

Fun and games aside, understanding COA is a key step in college planning. Yes, COA is rising and has risen dramatically over the years. But so has merit aid, particularly aid tied to academic achievement like GPA and test scores

So as you diligently fill out your bracket for March Madness, be sure to apply that same diligence to your GPA and test scores. 

And if you need help with your GPA or test scores, contact CROSSWALK. We offer tutoring in all academic subjects as well as small group and private test prep for the SAT and ACT

Friday, March 5, 2021

Test Optional Here to Stay

If you haven't heard the news, ACT CEO Janet Godwin recently wrote in the company's blog that the test optional movement is here to stay. Further, she offers that the growth of test blind is "unlikely." Read her post right here

The reactions to this announcement are mixed. 

On one hand, the good news is that more schools will allow students to have the option to submit test scores. This means that the stress around the SAT and ACT will be reduced since students will have the choice to take and/or submit test scores. Followers of CROSSWALK know that we have long been proponents of the stress-free approach to testing. 

On the other hand, the bad news is that the test optional movement seems to benefit colleges and universities more than the students. Due to the pandemic, most if not all schools went test optional for the past admissions cycle. As a result, the more competitive schools saw increases in the number of students applying. This increase in applicants benefits these schools in three significant ways: 1) schools get to choose from a wider selection of applicants, 2) more applications means more revenue from application fees, and 3) increased applications means a lower admission rate which helps the school's rankings in the U.S. News and World Report. 

So what is the end result of test optional remaining as an ongoing policy? Probably no different than the past. Early indications are that more admission offers, and potentially more financial award offers, are going to those who submit test scores. 

The data point to track will be the difference between admission offers or financial aid awards for test takers versus non-test takers. But that data point (realistically) may be too soon to tell and (cynically) potentially buried or massaged by the colleges keen on keeping application submissions up. 

As long as the SAT and ACT remain a path towards more admission and financial aid, CROSSWALK is committed to providing stress-free approaches to test preparation

Our upcoming Spring Test Prep Series starts March 16th and financial aid is available. Sign up and get more information here

CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's resource for academic tutoring and test preparation. Contact us here for more information.