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Testing Context and Next Steps

All grades

The pandemic was only one catalyst for changes to standardized testing which have been underway for a long time. Well before the pandemic, approximately 1000 colleges, many of them well known, had already adopted test optional policies. Working in College Advising at Seattle Academy has always meant advising strategically a wide range of testing profiles relative to a variety of college testing policies. Our current test advising relies on that long experience and attention to college behaviors.

Changes to colleges’ use of standardized testing mean Seattle Academy testers (current or potential) fall into three strategic groups. Our experience has been that none of these groups is at a particular advantage over the other. Students should choose based on what is best for them:

  • Some students who know testing is not for them now have sufficient test optional college options that they can opt out of testing entirely if they wish.
  • Some students have always been exceptionally strong testers and know that they would like standardized testing to be part of their application profile.
  • Some students have mixed feelings about testing, either they are unsure whether they should test and would like to explore it more, or would like to take an exam that they may or may not send to colleges pending College Advising’s advice. 

As with all things, we coach our 11th and 12th grade college advisees as individuals with many strengths. We bring to those meetings information about how high test scores need to be (near or above the middle 50% for each college at that link) to be additive (or even “submittable”) for particular college applications. The majority of our students have grades and stories so compelling that they may choose to emphasize these strengths and not send scores. In general, test scores alone were not variables that “moved the needle” for college applications for the graduating classes of 2021 or 2022, those graduating during the pandemic. Scores certainly did not supercede strong grades, compelling classes, rich stories, and the use of strategies like carefully chosen Early Decision colleges. Students with perfect scores were not admitted at their favorite colleges while students without perfect scores who did not submit them were admitted at their first choice colleges. Just having a score, especially “at any cost,” is not the key to a college of choice. 

Consider attending this virtual event where a dynamic guest speaker discusses changes to and next steps for standardized testing (recording will be available).

Testing with accommodations requires evaluations sometimes with significant advanced notice. For additional information about this please contact Jaymie Lewis at