The Future of the SAT

The last year has brought major changes to college admissions, the SAT, and the entire standardized testing industry. The most recent changes to the SAT are just the beginning as more changes are set to be announced in April. These may include the move to an all-digital format, though the College Board has said they will not be offering it online.

What does this mean for the SAT in the next year? What about the next five years? How can students plan ahead when they don’t know what college admissions will look like when they’re ready to apply?

For decades, the SAT and ACT were considered key to acceptance into the best colleges in the US. Students could not rely on a great GPA, activities list, AP courses, or an amazing personal essay; their SAT score had to be strong or there was little chance of acceptance to a top college. Now, over 400 colleges have become test-optional – a ‘temporary’ measure that seems likely to stick – and applications to top colleges have surged. Harvard received a record 57,000 applications this past application season and had to delay their admissions release date to process all the applications.

Students and parents are conflicted over this change. Some are relieved or excited to skip the SAT and ACT, but others wonder how they will stand out in this new flood of applicants. If everyone has a great GPA, how can one student stand out?

The case against the SAT is compelling. Studies show that GPA (your grades in high school) are a more accurate measure of college success than standardized testing. This goes against the commonly held belief that GPA is an unreliable measure of students across so many schools.

Disparities in SAT scores can also be attributed to socioeconomic background. While the College Board tried to address this with the Adversity Score, this solution was met with a mixed response.

So what’s the case for keeping the SAT? It’s simple; the SAT is a great way for students to demonstrate their academic skills. Despite the controversy, a top SAT score is undeniably a great achievement.

“With all of the recent changes to standardized testing requirements, the SAT score will ultimately play a bigger role in the admissions process. With fewer application components now being considered, the SAT will only carry more weight since fewer students will submit an SAT score. Now more than ever, we advise students to focus on maximizing their SAT score, especially if they want to stand our from other candidates.”

Moon Oh, College Admissions Consultant

While the diminished role of the SAT and ACT in college admissions may seem like a gift to many students who are unable to afford prep courses or who simply don’t test well, this just makes admissions more competitive. Students are only going to find it more difficult to stand out.

High-achieving students have always sought any and every advantage in the college admissions process, pursuing AP courses, impressive extra-curricular activities, volunteer experience, and other, non-academic achievements. That is unlikely to change. The SAT and ACT will continue to offer an additional boost for students.

For more information on how to stand out with all the expected changes, book a free initial consultation and get started on an Academic Roadmap!

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