COVID-19 is changing life as we know it. No longer do we go to sporting events with our families to cheer on favourite teams, hang out in bars hoping to meet the One or even shake hands with business connections.
But what ramifications does COVID-19 have for standardized testing and university or graduate school admissions? The admissions, career and test prep coaches at ICON+ Education Group have put our brains together to offer the following advice.
Let’s start with school exams. GCSEs, AS-Levels and A-Levels have been cancelled in the UK; the 30 April to 22 May 2020 IB exams have been cancelled globally; and countless schools have either closed or put their classes online. Many exam boards and schools are finding alternatives, such as calculated scores based on performance to-date, and offering support to students who believe those scores do not accurately reflect what they could have achieved on the “would have been” exams.
On the standardized testing side, test centres are implementing additional health and safety measures, cancelling or postponing exam dates (SSAT, SAT, ACT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) or offering alternative solutions such as live proctoring of remote or at-home exams (TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc.). While this might initially sound like good news to those who were never enamoured of standardized tests to begin with (and let’s be honest, how many of us actually love exams?), many universities are only creating in-house exams that are closely modelled on standardized exams. Oh, shucks! That means we still need to prepare for these exams.
More specifically in terms of higher education and admissions, worldwide, courses are being delivered online, universities are delaying course start-dates, and deferring offers as well as commitment deadlines. As travel restrictions and lockdowns become a pandemic of their own, international student mobility is undoubtedly affected.
Now, here is the good news, according to our team.
First, given the economic downturn and many lay-offs, the time is now to seek higher education: By the time you have graduated, it is likely that the job market will have improved. Furthermore, according to a QS survey of universities, half of the respondents believed COVID-19 would decrease the number of applications they receive. Read: Selectivity will likely lower. Read further: Want to gun for a normally more selective university? Do it now!
Also, global uncertainty creates an atmosphere of flexibility or the admissions space – meaning to say that how applicants market themselves on their essays, resumes and interviews matters more. Those who brand and express their value better can take this limited-duration opportunity to shine.
Finally, as universities and standardized exam organizations are increasingly finding alternative means of testing applicants, take advantage of delayed admissions cycles to prepare to ace these exams.
For more than two decades, we at ICON+ Education Group, together with our admissions specialist partner Aureus Consulting, has offered both personalized and group coaching to support you through every step of the application process: studying for standardized exams (or alternative exams modelled off of standardized exams), crafting unique admission essays and preparing to shine in interviews. With the impact of COVID-19 in view, we recently put all of our services online, though in-person options are available on an appointment basis. With a strong track record of helping clients get accepted to top universities such as Oxbridge, Imperial, LSE, INSEAD, Harvard, Princeton, NUS, Yale-NUS and countless more, we can help you submit a more competitive pitch to the institutions to you apply to. Get started.