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Students preparing for college testing season


(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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College testing season is underway. Whether it’s the SATs, ACTs or AP exams, there have been a lot of changes in the last few years. CBS 6 spoke with an expert about what those changes mean and how to prepare so students have a shot at getting into the school of their dreams.

It used to be you took the SATs or ACTs and applied to college. But now, only 4% of schools require these exams, 8% are test-blind and a whopping 88% of schools are now test-optional. David Blobaum with the National Test Prep Association says test optional means you don’t have to send these scores, but they certainly help. “Especially the top tier schools that are test optional, I would say they’re quote-unquote test optional because they’re really test required unless you have some other hook to get in,” said Blobaum.

He also says AP exams for AP courses are a smart way to get ahead in college before it even starts. “They increase your chances of admission, of getting more merit aid and getting scholarships.”

Moving forward, ChatGPT may change college admissions even more. Experts say students had been copying and cheating on college essays for years, and ChatGPT is making it even easier to do now. Blobaum says students are now asking the new AI program to create personalized college essays for them, and it will write one that’s in the top 1% in terms of quality. He says it’s time colleges consider either eliminating college essays or having them proctored like an exam. “Students at the end of their SAT or ACT could write a 45-minute essay answering college application prompts for instance and then colleges would have an authenticated essay that they could actually use in admissions.” Whether that happens is up to college.

In the meantime, experts say students can and should take the SATs or ACTs many times. Both now offer “score choice” so students can submit their best scores without colleges ever needing to know about the not-so-good ones.

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It’s worth noting AP exams are one-and-done. There are no re-takes. Experts recommend finishing testing by November 1st of senior year in order to apply early decision for schools. Often those early decision applications increase a student’s chance of getting in.

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