Do your testing homework

Counselors always recommend that students preparing to apply to college check each school’s website to verify what’s required for admission. What’s the deadline? Do you need letters of recommendation? Are interviews offered? There’s no better, more trustworthy place to find those answers than from the colleges themselves.

But this year, that’s likely to be even more important because of standardized tests.

In March of 2016, the College Board gave the first administration of a completely redesigned SAT. When the results arrived in May, the scores were about 20-80 points higher than they were on the old SAT. So whether a student got a 1000, or 1100, or 1500, it actually wasn’t as good as it would have been on the old version. Here’s the Washington Post’s piece on the score inflation and resulting confusion.

The College Board also released a new table showing how new SAT scores could be compared to ACT scores. But the folks at ACT didn’t agree with those comparisons, and that led to bickering between the Coke and Pepsi of the testing world.

What does all of this mean to you if you’re applying to college this year?

It means that colleges’ testing policies will be in transition this year. How will they compare scores for students who took both the old and new SAT? How will they compare ACT scores to new SAT scores? Will they still require the same exams? Will they still use them the same way? Some or all of those things could be changing with many colleges this fall.

So this year more than ever, it will be very important for students to check the websites of the colleges that interest them, and to pay particular attention to their testing information. If that information is not listed, or if it hasn’t been updated on their website, call the admissions offices of the colleges you intend to apply to (remember, calling the admissions office is a job for students, not parents).

A little bit of drudgery? Maybe. But it won’t take long. And just a little testing homework will leave you certain that you aren’t missing anything.