Has COVID Cancelled the SAT?

December 24, 2021
Category: Perspectives

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, headlines suggested that the global health crisis spelled the end of the role of standardized tests like the SAT in education. Indeed, many high profile institutions of higher learning moved to a test-optional model.

Yet, as people have begun to adapt to the disease, and as in-person learning and testing returns, we see that tests like the SAT have not been eliminated. Instead, their role in the admissions process has been refined, in large part because of broader social trends.

Growing Demand + Steady Supply = Higher Tuitions

It should surprise no one that the admissions process is increasingly selective. According to the Institute of Education Sciences (ies.ed.gov):

  • from 2002-2012, competitive colleges (defined as Barron’s category 4) experienced an 81% increase in first-time, first-year, degree-seeking applications
  • admissions rates in this category decreased from 31% to 22%

(Source: Supply and Demand in the Higher Education Market)

This mismatch between demand and supply has led to skyrocketing tuitions. According to usnews.com, average tuition and fees at private national universities has increased 71% from 2002 to 2012 (144% from 2002-2022).

Stand Out and Save Money

A strong SAT score can help a student stand out from the crowd. While test scores aren’t the only factor at play in college admissions, they certainly play a role in differentiating between applicants. More and more applicants are vying for the same limited number of seats in the country’s top schools, and admissions directors will use all information available to help them choose between applicants with similar backgrounds and academic achievement levels.

In addition, many four-year institutions and private foundations use SAT scores as a basis for awarding merit-based scholarships, which can help defray the rising cost of higher education.

Higher test scores on the SAT might even enable students to place out of entry-level coursework, freeing them up to graduate early (for more financial savings) or to pursue dual degrees (a competitive advantage in the job market).

Showcase Your Achievement

As our founder, Marcus Rappaport, likes to say, “I like standardized tests because they give me an opportunity to show off what I know.” Along with good grades and a robust list of extracurricular activities, a strong score can make all the difference in a hyper-competitive application landscape.

Prepare for Success

Success is the result of hard work. Developing test-taking skills, like any other skill, takes time and guidance. Check out how we prepare students to unlock their full potential on the SAT: