If I am going to be honest, I am not a huge fan of standardized testing. I could probably get into a healthy debate with anyone about the inherent and overt biases I think exist with the current standardized tests that are used for college and graduate school admission, but I choose not to. I understand that they are seen in a positive way by the institution of higher education and they can help the right student with indicating their knowledge, critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and logic test-taking skills.
When I meet with students, I discuss the role that testing can or should not play in their application process. For years, I would talk not just about the SAT and ACT, but also about the value in SAT Subject Tests. While there have been fewer and fewer colleges around the country that require or recommended the results of these tests as part of their decision-making process, I found that students who had a strong mastery of knowledge about a specific subject should use these tests to help provide an additional data point for their application.
Now, the Subject Tests are no more. Recently, the College Board made an announcement that they were eliminating the SAT Subject Tests, effective immediately. One key point that the College Board made in their announcement was that they were going to encourage students to focus on the AP exams and curriculum as a way to indicate rigor in their high school and college application. While I was a bit surprised to hear this, I also had a sense of relief for my students. Then that relief quickly vanished and I thought…How will my students, who do not have access to a robust AP curriculum in school, be able to show mastery of knowledge?
There are many students that I have worked with over the years who attend high schools that chose not to use the AP curriculum. Such schools have courses that can demonstrate a high level of rigor and prepare students well for the college experience. Oftentimes, students at these schools would take an SAT Subject Test to demonstrate their understanding and mastery of the content of the subject. Furthermore, without an AP curriculum, a student could take an AP exam, but likely would need to go to another school to sit for the test. That, coupled with a price point that is more than double that of a Subject Test, makes it an even more challenging test for some students.
So what does a student who does not have AP course offerings and now does not have the SAT Subject Tests do? Here are some recommendations to enhance the resume without the ability to have a data point that was previously available:
- Dual enrollment/Pre-college courses – Students at many high schools around the country have the opportunity to take college-level courses in their own high school or at local colleges and universities in their area. Taking advantage of dual enrollment or pre-college courses is a great way to show a college your desire to demonstrate increased rigor and with the culmination of earned college credit, this can help save time and money later on.
- CLEP (College Level Examination Program) – CLEP is a program offered by the College Board that is not often talked about. CLEP courses allow students to take exams that can earn college credit for many college-level introductory courses. While colleges around the country have policies to accept CLEP credit, it is important to learn about this program to see if it would be a good fit for a student. The goal of the program is to give students of any age the chance to show mastery of knowledge on a subject(s) and also help with potentially reducing the time in and cost of college.
- Take more rigorous course offerings – Every student who applies to college is evaluated against the high school and their peers in that high school. While each school and its offerings are different, they all have programs that allow students to show some form of rigor in their courses. Take advantage of opportunities that would be the right fit for a student to show interest in a subject matter and let the colleges know they can handle increased rigor in their course schedule.
- Extracurricular Activities – Sometimes showing mastery of knowledge does not have to take place in the classroom or on a test. Having experience through work, internships, volunteer, summer programs, etc. can highlight to a college that a student is taking what they learn in the classroom and are choosing to apply that knowledge in an experimental or practical way. This not only demonstrates the use of knowledge and skills but can also help to create a robust resume and even have good content for the essay portion of the application process.
To learn more about how your student can highlight their mastery of knowledge beyond standardized testing, please connect with NYC Admissions Solutions to schedule an initial call (email@example.com).