The fact that Cornell University and other elite colleges have dropped their SAT requirements for this fall’s applicants, does not mean that they are relaxing their acceptance standards. Know that the change in requirements is meant only to give applicants who have no access to SAT/ACT due to COVID-19 the opportunity to have their applications reviewed without penalty. This is not your chance to try to slip in under the radar because of weak test taking skills. Admissions will be looking carefully at your academic choices, grades and teacher recommendations…extra carefully!
A recent conversation with a Cornell University admissions officer revealed that students with access to one of these exams would be wise to buckle up, study, take the test and excel at it (be prepared to only get one chance). This is especially true for international students as schools overseas are generally less visited and are less well known than schools located in the USA.
The SAT/ACT are important tools for better understanding your student in context. Test scores will be especially important for students in schools that have switched to Pass/Fail grading as it will provide important insight into student ability. Also know that if most students from a school or region submits a score, it will not look good for the student who does not submit.
Finally, this period’s test optional status will likely draw more applicants than usual, thus making standing out in the admissions process even more challenging. So, if your student really wants to gain admission to Cornell…he or she will do all possible to a level of excellence and that includes sharing strong test scores if at all possible!