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How are the Top 20 Nationwide Universities Responding to COVID-19?

Test Optional Universities


Recently, the College Board announced that they will not be administering at home SAT exams for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, due to COVID-19 the capacity for in person examinations has been extremely limited.  These factors will prevent thousands of students from taking the SAT exam. Furthermore, the at home ACT testing option will not be available until late fall or early winter.

In light of this, is reporting that nearly half of all four year universities in the US, including the top 20, have gone test optional for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Of these top 20 universities, some have stated that they will be test optional for only the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, while others, such as California Institute of Technology, have stated that they will be test optional for a two year period.  Although students are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores, many schools, including Columbia University, strongly suggest submitting them as it can be a valuable addition to a student’s application.

Test Optional vs. Test Flexible vs. Test Blind:

Even with universities going test optional, there are still three categories in which a school can fall under. The first is a test optional college, where students decide on whether or not they want to submit test scores with their application.  The majority of test optional colleges will consider SAT or ACT scores, but will focus on a student’s essays, GPA, and recommendations. The second type is a test flexible college, which allows students to submit other standardized tests in place of the SAT or ACT.  For example, Advanced Placement tests and SAT Subject Tests. Lastly, the third category is a test blind college. These colleges will not consider test scores, even if students submit them.

Test-optional schools:

– Brown University

– Columbia University

– Cornell University

– Dartmouth University

– Duke University

– Harvard University

– John Hopkins University

– Massachusetts Institute of Technology

– Northwestern University

– Princeton University

– Rice University

– Stanford University

– University of California Los Angeles

– University of Chicago

– University of Notre Dame

– University of Pennsylvania

– Vanderbilt University

– Washington University in St. Louis

– Yale University

Test-Blind Schools:

– California Institute of Technology

In place of the SAT or ACT, college admissions will be based on:

– Ability to handle challenging courses throughout high school;

– Commitment and effort in pursuing other challenging learning experiences;

– Community involvement;

– Extracurriculars (clubs, sports, activities outside of school);

– Letter of Recommendation from a teacher in a specific field (for example, a math teacher for students interested in STEM);

– Other standardized tests (AP, SAT Subject, state exams)

In conclusion, many universities have acknowledged that students who find themselves limited in the activities they can pursue due to COVID-19 will not be disadvantaged in the application process.

For more information about the College Admissions Process and SAT or ACT Test Prep
Call: (310) 454-3731
Groza Learning Center

AP Exams

AP Exams 1

Are They In Vogue Or Out of Fashion?

As a parent, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest trend in the high-pressure culture of academics. AP classes were designed to give students the experience of an intro-level college class while in high school, and they can even earn college credit for the course if they pass the AP exam saving money and time. By the way, the AP program is run by the College Board (the makers of the SAT). AP classes have been in vogue for the last decade as a determining factor in college admissions.

These days, AP’s are considered helpful but not necessarily a determining factor anymore. There are even some highly elite private high schools in the Washington D.C. area that are doing away with them altogether because they believe they already have a rigorous course of study and don’t want to feel beholden to the specialized curriculum that is required by the AP standards.

The mindset has predominantly been – more is better. More applications, higher test scores, and as many AP classes as you can possibly sign up for. Sometimes, that can be bad advice. For example, if your student takes an AP class that is too much for them, it can tank their GPA, and there is no coming back from that. Your student will spend the rest of his or her high school career, trying to climb out of that GPA slump.

Colleges do want to see that your student is taking the most rigorous schedule that shows their academic strength, but they also want to see that students know how to have balanced, healthy lives. That’s the ultimate goal because it informs the college that your student will be able to handle the pressures of college life.

Yes, AP’s can be awesome, especially if your student has a passion for the subject. They can boost their GPA and strengthen their college application by showing the admission team they’re making an effort to take challenging classes. But the number of advanced courses they choose really should depend on those particular academic interests. You don’t want to overload your student with little or no time for extracurriculars, fun, and social activities. No parent wants their student to be running on empty during their freshman year in college!

AP classes and test prep are a ton of work. If you’re concerned about your student acing an advanced course, DON’T WAIT to get support for them! At Groza Learning Center, we’re experienced in Advanced Placement prep and are here help.

AP Test Dates and Registration

The best time to take an AP exam is after you have completed the class, and many students take 2 – 3 AP classes per year. However, you can take any AP exam you feel ready for. Know when your AP exam dates are, so you can get ready in time for Test Day.

Exam fee for on-time exam orders (November 15, 2019, for full-year and first-semester courses; March 13, 2020, for courses that start after November 15).

  • $94 per exam
  • $124 per exam at schools outside the U.S., U.S. territories, and Canada, with the exception of DoDDS schools (Note: Fees may vary for exams at College Board–authorized test centers outside the U.S.)
  • $142 per exam for AP Capstone Exams (AP Seminar and Research)

Exam Dates

The 2020 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May: May 4 through 8 and May 11 through 15. Early testing or testing at times other than those published by the College Board is not permitted under any circumstances.

Week 1 Morning 8 a.m.
Local Time
Afternoon 12 noon
Local Time
2 p.m.
Local Time
May 4, 2020
United States Government and Politics Physics C: Mechanics Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
May 5, 2020
Calculus AB

Calculus BC

German Language and Culture

Human Geography

May 6, 2020
English Literature and Composition European History

Physics 2: Algebra-Based

May 7, 2020

Spanish Literature and Culture

Japanese Language and Culture

Physics 1: Algebra-Based

May 8, 2020
United States History Art History

Computer Science A

AP 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, and Drawing  – last day for coordinators to submit digital portfolios (by 8 p.m. ET) and to gather 2-D Art and Design and Drawing students for physical portfolio assembly.
Week 2 Morning 8 a.m.
Local Time
12 noon
Local Time
May 11, 2020
Biology Chinese Language and Culture

Environmental Science

May 12, 2020

Spanish Language and Culture



May 13, 2020
English Language and Composition Microeconomics

Music Theory

May 14, 2020
Comparative Government and Politics

World History: Modern

Italian Language and Culture


May 15, 2020
Computer Science Principles

French Language and Culture