Standardized Testing Recommendations
Updated: 12 January 2020
Students and parents regularly ask about our standardized testing recommendations. Please consider this document, which we may update periodically, to be our official recommendations.
Keep in mind that our priorities in shaping these recommendations include: 1. minimizing the number of sittings, while 2. maximizing the potential for high scores and 3. keeping as many options open as possible. Ultimately, each student needs to determine a standardized testing plan as part of their college search process.
SAT & ACT. We recommend that students take the SAT and ACT in the junior year, without test prep, to determine which of the two tests is the best fit and to get a baseline score. (Given that the ACT is not presently offered in Senegal, this means that we recommend that all juniors sit for the SAT.) Previously, we have recommended students to sit for the SAT/ACT only if they know they will apply to college or university in the United States or think that they might, but it is increasingly the case that the SAT/ACT can provide an alternative pathway to admission to non-US universities. Ultimately, we recommend that all students sit for the SAT/ACT during the junior year. (Also, it is helpful for students to have taken the SAT/ACT in the fall of the junior year to inform the beginning of their process second semester.)
SAT Subject Tests. We recommend that students take SAT Subject Tests at the end of the junior year and/or beginning of the senior year only if their applications require them. Several institutions in the USA require them, although almost all US universities accept them, so they might prove to support an application even if not required. Also, non-IB diploma students (or students who feel their IB scores do not reflect their abilities) can use SAT Subject Tests in lieu of IB scores in most places around the world. Read this additional piece on SAT Subject Tests.
SAT Score Choice. Score Choice is a system through the College Board where students can choose to send only their best scores instead of allowing an institution to which they are applying to see all of their scores. Please read this additional piece on Score Choice.
Test Optional/Test Flexible. In the USA, it is increasingly common for colleges and universities to provide students with opportunities to apply without submitting SAT/ACT scores or to provide various options for how to avoid using them in the application process. Read this additional piece on these types of schools.
Test Centers. ISD is an SAT test center. At present there are no ACT test centers in Senegal, so students must make arrangements to take the ACT elsewhere if it is essential to their application process. See this handout on the current year's testing schedule.
TOEFL or IELTS. There are local test centers for both the TOEFL and IELTS in Dakar. We recommend that students take these tests only if their applications require them and as late as possible. Typically, if a student has been at ISD and/or an English-medium school for all of high school (grades 9-12), then they will not need to sit for an ESL test; if their high school experience included time at a school where English was not the language of instruction or where they required ESL/ELL support, they may be required to sit for the test.
Test Prep. We recommend that all students prepare ("prep") for all standardized testing. There are many types of test prep before you should feel compelled to pay someone to tutor or provide test prep. Talk to us before you spend money! And read this piece!
PSAT. All students are required to sit for the PSAT test in October of the sophomore year. Additionally, any USA passport-holder who wishes to compete in the National Merit Scholarship Competition (NSMQT) may sit for the test again during the junior year. See us if you are interested after reading about the requirements! (For the 2019-20 year, alternative plans are being explored given that the ISD PSAT tests were lost in the mail.)
As always, please come see us or email us if you have any questions or concerns!