COVID Impact to College Admissions | Winward Academy


How Has COVID-19 Impacted College Admissions Requirements

With the challenges that the pandemic has brought not only to schools but also to students, we’ve been hearing frustrations from families about how to help teens plan to apply to colleges. So let’s break down what has occurred and what will occur for high school students in the class of 2022, 2023, and beyond. For the full webinar presentation on the topic, please watch the recording.

In March of 2020, COVID-19 drastically altered daily life, causing nationwide closures and forcing colleges and schools scrambling to adjust. By June, 95% of selective 4-year colleges became test-optional since ACT and College Board had cancelled Spring exams. Test optional schools give students the choice to apply with scores or without scores.

Nearly a year after the beginning of the pandemic, most colleges have not yet announced their standardized test policies for the Class of 2022, and some are remaining test optional. Examples of notable colleges that recently announced they’re staying test optional include Harvard, U Penn, Cornell, and Columbia.

College Board also recently announced even more changes. Due to pandemic financial constraints, the College Board has eliminated SAT subject tests and the optional essay for the SAT. Most students will not be greatly impacted by these changes, but colleges that relied heavily on SAT subject tests for certain programs (e.g., pre-med and engineering) will have to reexamine how they will evaluate an incoming student now that they can no longer require subject tests in Math and Science.

So with the recent changes, should you or your teen still take the ACT or SAT? Simple answer – yes. Here is why: 

  1. In a test optional environment, taking the exam can only help you and not hurt you. A high test score will just enhance your application and show the college that you fit into its academic profile. 
  2. ACT/SAT scores are still being used to evaluate course placements, scholarships, and athletic offers. So even though they’re not required to be eligible to apply, students still benefit from strong scores.

We know this time is challenging and trying to navigate through an already frustrating college application process can only add stress. That is why we are committed to continuing to provide updates to the changing college admissions landscape. Please feel free to reach out to us directly to discuss how we can help provide you or your teen expert and personalized advice on how to best prepare for the SAT/ACT and college applications.

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About Winward Academy – Winward Academy is one of the world’s leading innovators in the online education space, providing web-based academic support that enhances students’ knowledge, confidence, and competitiveness in middle and high school academics and in college applications. We help thousands of students every year by providing personalized, comprehensive ACT and SAT test preparation and extensive math curriculum support. The Winward Academy learning platform honors over 40 years of education and cognitive psychology research, incorporating proven techniques that promote effective learning.

Winward Academy’s unmatched reputation is wholly attributable to our students’ exceptional success and to the trust earned among students, parents, and schools around the world.

Jennifer Winward, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Winward is a renowned college instructor, a distinguished 20-year veteran of high school tutoring, and the founder and lead instructor of Winward Academy. She earned her Ph.D. specializing in adolescent brain development and adolescent learning. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction honors. Dr. Winward has been widely recognized for her academic success, published research, and philanthropic efforts with awards from the President of the United States, the California State Assembly, Rotary International, the Marin County School Administrator Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation.