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Optional SAT: good news really?

There have been a lot of changes in the world of education in the last few weeks as schools, colleges and universities grapple with the reality of COVID-19. Things are unlikely to change in the next couple of months and we are working on figuring out the long-term implications on the education of our students. For now, here is an update from last week.

  • SAT – Less than a week back, the College Board cancelled the May SAT. The College Board will offer a test date in lieu when things settle but right now, it is hard to tell if or when that might happen.
  • IB – The May IB exams have been cancelled which will impact 200,000+ students worldwide. However, the students will be offered a Diploma which reflects their standard of work. It is unclear how colleges will consider this, but it is likely they will evaluate students based on term grades and other materials.
  • ACTACT has rescheduled its 3 and 4 April international test dates to 12 and 13 June in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). All students registered for the 3 and 4 April international test dates received an email from ACT informing them of the postponement and instructions for free rescheduling to 12 or 13 June or future international test date.
  • Cambridge exams – In a release last night, Cambridge confirmed their decision not to run their international examinations in the May/June 2020 series in any country. This includes Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level, Cambridge AICE Diploma and Cambridge Pre-U, but does not affect A Level exams in Singapore.

These are unprecedented times and we understand how scared and worried students and parents might be. Remember, however – you’re not alone. This affects high school students everywhere and we can definitely work through it. There might not be a lot of clarity right now, but things will get clearer and we will continue to keep you posted.

For now, we know that some colleges are going test-optional. Case Western, Chapman University and Concordia University Texas are among some of the schools that are going to waive their standardized testing requirements. MIT will not be considering SAT subject tests. We do expect more schools to amend their policies in the coming weeks.

What does this mean for you?

I am sure some of you are breathing a sigh of relief at the “no tests” and we share a little of your sentiment. Just a little. If schools aren’t looking at standardized tests, what else are they looking at? The number of seats remains the same, and as such students need to think of ways in which they can stand out. Prep Zone team recommends:

  • Study harder! While exams this cycle are cancelled, May 2021 will go ahead in all likelihood. Don’t let this pause deter you; get ahead in your syllabus so you can use your time better later in the cycle when COVID-19 recedes in a few months (we are optimists with our fingers crossed).
  • Reach out for online opportunities to learn and read more, do online courses, look for other means to continue working! There are plenty of ways to show the school your intellectual curiosity and now is your chance to pursue them.
  • Your application essays are still in your hand and more important than ever! Start thinking of ways in which you can stand out and tell your story. Test scores help Admissions Committees in their decision process and without them, you will need to find other ways to stand out. Your written application becomes de facto the most important piece of your application.
  • Read. This list includes some of my favourite suggestions!

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Author Nirali

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