Discussions about standardized testing and the role it plays in the college admissions process have been in the spotlight for a while, particularly during the pandemic. Many students across the US, and from around the world had little or no access to the tests due to Covid-related cancellations. That is changing, but many colleges have already instituted a test optional admissions requirement for 2023 and beyond. This has been the policy from public to private colleges.

We believe each student’s individual needs are paramount and should inform the decision to test or not. In general, we believe standardized tests will continue to serve as one of the top four criteria that colleges consider, and that their scores contribute to a holistic view of the student. High schools and their respective curriculum options vary around the country, making GPA a relative measure–one school’s 4.0 might be equivalent to another’s 3.5, for example. Colleges are accustomed to interpreting the GPA metric based on the student and the school’s profile.

The thought that standardized tests are unfair to students who “don’t test well” is one we’re sensitive to, but it is an indication of their learning style and capacity within a given amount of time. If your student feels they don’t test well, it should be a consideration when determining their college choices. Speed doesn’t equal intelligence, but the pace of college classes is challenging from a content perspective, and volume of coursework may play a role in whether a student sinks or swims. Standardized test results can come down to how well a student performs in a set amount of time. Colleges will also consider standardized testing within the context of the student’s entire application.

To give every student in our care the best options, we have added Josh Hotary to our organization. Josh is a seasoned professional and a test prep specialist. His method is intensive and one that evaluates the student’s goal before customizing a plan. With his program, students find focus where they need it and a methodology designed to improve scores substantially. The average ACT increase is as much as 3 points per six-week session. Typically, students work with Josh for three or four sessions and see a seven to 10 point overall score increase on the ACTs–a considerable jump! Also, I think you should give an example or two of what Josh has accomplished with SAT prep, especially given that our NE clients heavily rely on the SATs.

When to start? Josh says, “Reading comprehension is more challenging to improve and I recommend that students start early to improve their reading skills. The English sections of both SAT and ACT are easier to improve and I am confident I’ll be able to raise a student’s results to the 90th percentile or higher. The difference between ACT and SAT is the amount of time they allow for reading, with the SAT at 13 minutes and 8 minutes for ACT. As for math, the SAT is challenging in that it requires more depth of knowledge but it is more predictable in terms of what the test asks. The ACT math is much broader in terms of what they will ask, but fairly surface level in terms of depth of content. When people ask which test I recommend, I say that it depends on the student and the colleges on their list.”