July 12, 2012 by Admit It!
Admit It! Next to the essay, standardized testing is what gives you the most anxiety about the application process. There’s just nothing fun about them (unless of course you love No. 2 pencils and coloring inside the lines – can it be considered coloring if it’s done with a pencil?). But, like it or not, they are a part of most applications and they’re not going away anytime soon.
So if Chris, Keyshawn, Coach Ditka, Tom and Stewart were writing this blog (or I guess more accurately commentating it before kick-off on Sunday afternoon), this is what they’d say.
You took your first standardized test just one month before the application was due? C’Mon Man!
- Give yourself the best opportunity to do well. Say the application is due in January and you take the SAT for the first time in December. Sure there are January and February test dates but it’s also possible your application will go through part if not all of its review (depending on the schools to which you’re applying and their processes) prior to those scores being available. If standardized tests aren’t your friend, don’t give yourself only one crack at them. It’s often best to attempt one of the exams (either the SAT or ACT) in the spring of your junior year and then either try that test again or try the other exam during the summer before senior year. That leaves you the first test date in the fall should you need it to make one more attempt.
That being said, you get a big C’Mon Man! for attempting the test only once.
- Unless you hit a home run on your first attempt, making another attempt is often a wise idea. Most colleges and universities will review your best outcome so taking it multiple times rarely hurts you.
You get an even bigger C’Mon Man! when you attempt the test too many times.
- This past cycle I actually saw someone report seven exam results. SEVEN. Holy self-masochistic behavior Batman. No one wants to spend that kind of time and money taking that many exams. Usually after three attempts, the likelihood of substantial improvement is slim.
Then there are those who don’t report the exam sitting in which they improved 200 points from the previous sitting. C’Mon Man! (in exasperated voice).
- For W&M, scores must be reported to us from the testing agency. What you write down in the standardized testing section of your application is not considered official. So when we have an official score report of a 1300 and a self-reported score of a 1500 we let out a collective C’Mon Man!
Just some food for thought as you rising seniors out there plan your upcoming Saturday mornings.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission