Most universities, including seven of the eight Ivy League, have now fully waived standardized testing requirements for applicants applying to the fall 2021 term (entering freshman graduation year: 2025). You may have seen another article stating that all universities have suspended the testing requirement, but as of now, there is a small deviation. Columbia’s School of General Studies (GS) does not require test scores (SAT, ACT, or GSAE) for Spring 2021 applications, but they have yet to declare a plan for Fall 2021 applications (see Columbia University’s announcement). The GSAE is Columbia’s standardized test for GS applicants, which is administered online, therefore social distancing does not apply to its administration.
**Of note, if you are a veteran or civilian nontraditional student with an educational gap of a year or more, you will be applying to Columbia GS, not Columbia College (their internal college for “traditional” students). Therefore, as of right now, you will have to submit a test score (SAT, ACT, or GSAE) if you plan on applying to Columbia this upcoming fall.
What does this mean for you, the veteran or active service member? This means more time to focus on your classes without the stresses of studying for a mandatory SAT or ACT. Further, if the required standardized test was deterring you in one way or another from applying to a university that requires one, you’re in luck.
Much like every other opportunity in life, capitalize when you’re able. However, the question remains: your prospective university may not require a standardized test, but should you take one? It’s hard for me to give any sort of definitive insight on this question, which appears to be popping up so frequently. On one hand, if you believe you’re prepared to separate yourself from the general population by crushing a solid score, then I’d ask, why not? On the other hand, if you feel that you will more efficiently benefit from dedicating that time to your difficult curriculum, then perhaps that is the right move for you.
At the end of the day, you’re going to need to be honest with yourself, and as previously mentioned, I am in no position to definitively recommend one route or another. What I can do, however, is tell you the decision that I would make. Personally, I would take the test, and I speak for only myself in this matter—not any of the other founders, staff members, or associates of Next Step Inbound. I would take the test (and I did take the test) because I wanted my application to reflect the kind of candidate that I was—determined, ruthless, and motivated. I wasn’t going to give one awkward Saturday morning at the local high school the opportunity to relinquish a fatal blow to my pride. You may be 27 years old like me, or even older, but trust me, that one Saturday morning of feeling like a black sheep proved its value the second that I read my first acceptance letter. It’s a moment that changed my life, pride, and story, and I wouldn’t revise anything that led up to that special moment.
Moving forward, I recommend you first check to see if your prospective university indeed waived the standardized testing requirement for next year. Then, make a judgement call. For our advice on how to tackle these tests, visit our Standardized Test (SAT & ACT) Insight & Preparation page. Lastly, and as always, reach out to us if you have any questions.