Before leaving 2023 behind, let us recap the important things we learned from this post-pandemic year.
Standardized tests are still important.
When COVID halted everything in 2019, students and institutions alike scrambled to find solutions in regards to test scores. In response to the pandemic, universities waived test scores and adopted Test-Optional or Test-Blind policies during COVID outbreak. In 2023, some have started requiring test scores once again. This demonstrates that standardized test scores still remain as one of the best means of assessing students’ abilities and academic performances.
Online testing is the future.
Having established that test scores are still absolutely relevant to university admissions, it is only logical that test providers will develop online testing models to make tests accessible to everyone. Earlier this year, SAT from College Board started to roll out Digital testing for international students in March, and the test will be completely online starting in 2024.
More efficient testing for graduate school admissions.
Like other standardized tests, GMAT and GRE have also been redesigned to be shorter both in number of questions and testing time. Nevertheless, test-takers should take into account that the reduction of exam questions implies a more valuable result for each question. With algorithms becoming more sensitive, it may be harder to achieve a high score. No matter what test you plan to take, proper preparation is key to your success.
Tests are getting shorter. However, they aren’t any easier.
Perhaps the biggest thing all test-takers can rejoice in from the online switch is the shorter exam time of standardized tests. However, shorter tests do not equal easier tests! These online tests aren’t just paper exams done on the computer; these tests are adaptive. What this means is that no test takers will receive the same tests. Thus, the scores will be more reflective of the test takers’ abilities.
Who you are matters.
With test-optional policies, the number of applicants to top universities increased significantly while acceptance rates remained small. Competition to top institutions is at an all-time high. Top schools will continue to be selective and good scores will only get you so far. What will make you stand out among the thousands of students in the admissions pool is your story. Universities want to know what kind of student you are and what you can bring to the table. They want to know who you are outside of school; your experiences, passions, and hardships are the ingredients to show them your true self. Paint a vivid picture of who you are in your essays to not be just another applicant that admissions officers will read through.
Farewell 2023! Chin up and start your 2024 with confidence!