With many colleges test-optional, students must stand out in other ways

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)—As the high school class of 2021 begins their senior year, college applications are waiting to be filled out. But something that may not be needed this year are test scores for the SAT and ACT as many testing centers are closed over COVID-19.

“One of the gifts, potentially, of this pandemic is that many schools and most schools, quite honestly, now are either test blind or test optional,” said Jennifer Turano, a college counselor with Collegewise.

Passing on the test may seem like a no-brainer, but many students are not aware that they could be missing out on scholarships and other opportunities if they skip on sitting for the tests this fall. 

Generally though, Turano says students should let test scores go and focus on other areas of their application that they can control, like the essay. Turano is advising against writing it on the pandemic unless a student was very negatively impacted by it. She says the essay may contain a “glimmer” of what students learned during quarantine but that students should take a step back, view their lives from a wider lens, and find their best story for their personal statement.

“It might have come about during this time of quarantine but four years of high school is a very long time it might not have so I don’t want them to have to fall into that temptation to just write about what happened in the quarantine,” she said.

With test scores optional for many colleges and universities, that puts more weight on course work and extracurricular activities. Some students may decide to weigh the pros and cons of taking a gap year or start out at a community college with plans to transfer to a four year school down the road.

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