February 2022 With the new SAT protocols being implemented this March throughout Indiana, I thought it prudent to reach out to Zionsville Community High School (ZCHS) College and Career Transition Coordinator and Counseling Department Chair Cathy Patane to find out the facts about the relevancy of the ACT/SAT when it comes to college and university applications in this current pandemic environment, as well as how the state’s changes to standardized testing as they relate to the SAT are going to impact Indiana high school juniors. Indiana high school juniors will take the SAT starting in the spring of 2022, and scores will be used to evaluate Hoosier schools' quality. Lawmakers made the change in 2018 as part of a bill to change Indiana's diploma structure to align with federal accountability, and to align the high school exam with new graduation requirements approved by the state board. Test-Optional vs. Test-Flexible Policies Today, more colleges and universities across the nation are going test-optional or test-flexible, either temporarily or permanently, as a result of the pandemic. But even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, some colleges and universities had already amended their admissions policies to put less emphasis on SAT or ACT scores and more emphasis on a holistic-review approach and multiple factors when reviewing student applications. This was a response by many colleges and universities to address concerns about equity and access barriers for students seeking higher education. However, many merit-based scholarships still require ACT or SAT scores for consideration. “We've seen a trend of colleges and universities moving away from required testing—even prepandemic,” Patane said. “Especially at liberal arts colleges. But we do expect there to be some colleges and universities that will still expect SAT scores, especially after the pandemic effects have waned. One of the things I tell students is that it's always best—in my opinion—for them to attempt the ACT or SAT at least once. And now, all juniors will have to take the SAT. Even though some of the colleges and universities don't require the scores for admissions, they require the scores for merit money. It’s just best to have the score in in your back pocket, and then you can choose if you’re going to submit it later on.” So, what is the difference between test-optional and test-flexible? Test-optional means the college or university does not require applicants to submit standardized test scores when applying for admission. Test-flexible means the college or university gives the students the option to submit other standardized test scores for consideration, such as an International Baccalaureate exam or an Advanced Placement Test in lieu of an ACT/SAT score, but are welcome to submit an ACT/SAT score if they so wish. New This March—All Indiana High School Juniors Are Required to Take the SAT The SAT is the new state accountability exam required by the State of Indiana, starting with the class of 2023. Any ZCHS class of 2022 seniors who have not already taken the SAT or ACT will not be eligible to participate in the SAT testing day on March 3, 2022. These seniors will have to register and take the exams on a designated Saturday test day. High school juniors are not able to opt out of taking the SAT even if they have taken the test previously, have future plans to take it or don’t intend to take it in the future. Students unable to take the SAT on March 3 due to an absence or illness will have to complete a make-up test at school, within the state’s designated testing windows. The students will not have to register themselves nor pay to take the SAT on this date. ZCHS will make all necessary arrangements for students to take the test. The SAT will be taken on a computer by all ZCHS juniors. This is a different testing format than students will use if/when they take the SAT during College Board-scheduled administrations, which are paper/pencil exams. While students are required to take the SAT for state accountability purposes, it is not a graduation-qualifying exam like the ISTEP was previously. In other words, a student does not need to achieve a certain score on the SAT in order to graduate from high school. When asked about the benefits of taking the SAT in the school environment during a school day, Patane replied, “The convenience , and that all students have the ability of taking the at least once, I think are benefits. So, I like the equitability of having the test during the school day because we know that all the students that are enrolled in a public school will have access to it and can actually get to the test site without the issues of transportation and cost—even though there are waivers available.” SAT Prep and Tutoring There are numerous test prep resources available to students, some of which are free. The best place to start is by using the official SAT prep offered by the College Board in partnership with Khan Academy. This free test prep resource provides access to practice test questions and full-length practice tests. “College Board has free resources,” Patane shared. “There's a student guide that we are actually handing out to the current juniors—in advance of the SAT—that has some examples of questions that they'll have on the test.” Patane explained that if a student wants to retake the SAT to improve their score, they can, but they will need to register and pay to take the test during a test date offered by the College Board. The same applies for students who want to take the ACT in addition to the required SAT. The student will need to register and pay for the ACT through the College Board. For a comprehensive list of test-optional colleges and universities throughout the U.S., visit fairtest.org.