Complete Guide to College Applications in the Covid Era

Written by Kathleen K. | Posted in Academic Success

College Bound

The college application process is constantly changing, especially during the Covid pandemic. It can be hard to keep up with what you need to do to apply to college.

Questions Answered

Are you a junior or senior in high school confused about the process of gaining college admission? This complete guide will answer your questions about the college application process, acing the SAT and test-optional colleges – and what you can do now to make sure you are ready to apply for the college of your dreams.

College Board SAT

College Entrance Exams

Taking the SAT or ACT entrance exams is a common admission requirement for many colleges. But did you know there are hundreds of great colleges that don’t require you to submit your SAT or ACT scores? Plus, many colleges are moving to a “Test-Optional” format through the 2022 school year.

What is Test-Optional?

“What is Test-Optional,” you ask? Many colleges are allowing students to opt out of submitting their SAT or ACT scores. You can still take these tests, but YOU decide whether you want to submit your scores or not. This gives you more flexibility in how you present yourself to schools.

How Do You Decide?

If your test scores are below national averages, you may choose to withhold your scores. Instead, you can opt to show your other strengths. Are you involved in clubs or sports? Are you a leader? Do you volunteer? There are lots of ways to shine on your college application. The good news is that colleges today are taking a closer look at who you are as a person. Your test scores are just part of the picture.

Submit your scores if:

  • You got a high score. If your scores are above national averages, submitting your scores will emphasize your academic potential.
  • Your Guidance Counselor recommends that you submit them. Some colleges still strongly suggest that you submit your scores. Your counselor can advise you on your best choice.

Don’t submit your scores if:

  • Your scores are low. Instead, focus your application on your strongest points.
  • You just meet the minimum requirements for your top college choices. Let your overall high school academic record show your strengths.

OK. So, You have decided to take the SAT. How Do you Prepare?

Are SAT Prep courses worth the time, effort and costs? Well, statistically, they are – if you put in the effort. The experts at everydae, have shown that “Spaced Repetition” (rather than cramming for the test) is the secret to acing the SAT. In as little as 10 minutes a day, students can complete fun game-style challenges on their phone, tablet, or computer and build their skills. The results are improved SAT scores. NICE! At Whitmore School, a recent graduate improved her total score by 300 points! And, Yes, she was accepted to the college of her dreams!

Watch this quick video to learn how you can ACE the SAT.

The everydae approach is designed for high school students who have a busy schedule or short attention span. Students set a daily goal and then conquer fun 10-minute challenges. This approach boosts confidence and motivation. Watch this video to see the everydae results.


Are the SATs and ACTs Still Being Offered?

Yes! “Test-Optional” does not mean the end of the SATs or ACTs, however, there have been a few changes to these tests. Many students plan to take the college entrance exams more than once, hoping to improve their scores. Due to recent test cancellations, some juniors might not be able to take the test more than once before submitting their college applications. But don’t panic! These tests are still available.

ACT Dates:

Here are the dates for the ACT test date that are currently scheduled for the 2021-2022 year.

ACT Test Dates 2022

ACT Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
February 12, 2022 January 7 February 4
April 2, 2022 February 25 March 25
June 11, 2022 May 6 June 3
July 16, 2022 June 17 July 8


SAT Dates:

Here are the dates for the SAT test date that are currently scheduled for the 2020-2021 year.

SAT Test Dates 2021 – 2022

SAT Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
November 6, 2021 October 8, 2021 October 26, 2021
December 4, 2021 November 4, 2021 November 23, 2021
March 12, 2022 February 11, 2022 March 1, 2022
May 7, 2022 April 8, 2022 April 26, 2022
June 4, 2022 May 5, 2022 May 25, 2022


What has changed for the SAT?

The SAT no longer offers the optional essay or SAT subject tests. Phew! Fewer tests! Colleges will focus more on your GPA, the rigor of courses you have taken, SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and participation in extracurricular activities.  Students who excel in specific core subjects such as math, science, social studies or English might want to consider taking the AP or CLEP exams that show mastery in that subject. Doing well on these exams just may even earn you college credit in these subjects, so you will start college ahead of the game. Read more about the COLLEGE BOARD AP EXAMS and COLLEGE BOARD CLEP EXAMS. 

Other Changes

1. Merit Scholarships

A majority of test-optional universities and colleges state that students who do not complete the ACT or SAT will still be considered for merit scholarships.

There are also hundreds of merit scholarships that you can apply for. is a great resource to help you with your college search, and they also help students find college scholarships. Register with and then click on this link Find College Scholarships.

2. High School Grading System Changes

Withs o students working from home, many schools have had to modify their grading system. Colleges have stated that they will respect each districts’ methods of practice, grading, and teaching.

Now, this does not mean that you shouldn’t turn in your English papers or complete your math work. It just means that colleges will look at all aspects of your high school career and take into consideration any major changes that have happened during your time in school.  New grading practices will not have a negative impact on your application.

NOPE. So, you have decided to apply to a test-optional college. Now what?

What Colleges Offer Test-Optional?

Colleges look at all aspects of your high school career, not just your GPA and test scores. This means that everything from community service and clubs, to a YouTube channel, can be included in your application.

This doesn’t mean that you do not need to study and work hard. So sorry folks, you can’t get out of your schoolwork that easily. Grades will still be an important factor.

You have a solid high school career and you have decided to consider test-optional colleges. Now it is time for Research! Research! Research! 

Click on the links below from and to see a list of colleges that don’t require the ACT or SAT.

2020 Best Test-Optional Colleges – Niche

Test-Optional Colleges: Complete List of 900+ School

You Got This!

Continue to talk to your School Counselor and College Advisor and follow up on your Personal Graduation Plan. You have worked hard to get to this point in your academic career. Even though everything seems like chaos, your counselor is still there to advise you.

Whitmore School, accredited by Cognia, (formerly AdvancED), offers four Diploma Options for students wishing to enroll full-time to earn their high school diploma. Additionally, students looking to get back on track to graduate on time can enroll in individual courses. Students enroll and begin any time, work at their own pace, and may take up to 12 months to complete their course.

Click here to read more about Whitmore School’s College Corner,  College Readiness and Test Prep courses that support students in the college search and application process.

Kathleen - Guidance Director

Written by: Kathleen, Guidance Director



October 2, 2021 in ,

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