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Avoid the Rookie Mistake of Standardized Testing

Before getting into a critical piece of advice for every student about to register for the ACT or SAT test for college admission, we would like to get something out of the way: College Driven loathes standardized testing! We do not believe it is in any way a predictor of a person's future college success, nor is it an indicator of a person's intelligence. In our opinion, the tests test on how well you test on a particular day. Okay, it's out there. You know our position. Moving on. Whew!

A Test-Optional World

If you squint really hard and have the light hit just right, you could maybe see a positive result of COVID-19: a majority of colleges made the decision to go test-optional. We were thrilled but didn't quite know how this would affect the college admissions world. Many well-known liberal arts colleges recently extended the decision for several admission cycles, many others adopted the choice permanently, and some highly selective colleges, like Wake Forest University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, wondered, "What took you so long?" Yet, others are back to their old ways like MIT and Georgetown. Just like the banks, the standardized testing business is just too big to fail, so it won't be heading to the pastures any time soon.

Free Could Be Costly

The rookie mistake comes way before you even get those No. 2 pencils pointy! When playing the college admissions game from the applicant's side, to win you must know which factors you can control. To that point, when registering to take the ACT or SAT, DO NOT choose any colleges to send your "FREE" score reports to. Usually, students register for these tests in English class, as a group. When you get to the point where you can choose which four colleges you'd like to send your results to for FREE, we're telling you to just sit there, and do nothing. If you feel uncomfortable just doing nothing while your peers naively search for the colleges on their lists, then choose colleges you know you won't be applying to like the University of Hawaii or Alaska Pacific University (unless of course, you are interested in these schools, then pick another). When students hear the word "Free", they think they're saving their parents some money. (That's a thoughtful child.) What you're signing up for is those colleges will get your test results NO MATTER WHAT. You cannot take it back once you've taken the test. It won't matter if you weren't feeling well that day. There's not a notes page to explain why you never finished the math section because the clock on the wall suddenly konked out. You cannot stop these test results from getting sent to the colleges that YOU selected. Another benefit of not choosing your Free Score Report Schools: less pressure to do well. Now, you can walk into that test more relaxed, knowing that no matter how you do, the results will be only viewed by you. Then, once you get the results, you can decide whether or not to release your tests to your colleges, or take the test again, or go the test-optional route, if available and appropriate.

By not selecting any colleges until you know your results, this is one piece you can control in the process. If you've already made this mistake but have not yet taken the test, go into your account and deselect your Free School Choice Report selections today! You should get to decide which test results you want to be sent to which colleges when you know what you're dealing with, instead of gambling on your future of admission, merit scholarships, etc. Sure, it'll cost you $16 per school later, but is the risk really worth it to remain in control and stress-free?

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