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Test-Optional College Admission: What It Means for ApplicantsGuest Contributor
Pandemic school closures and ACT and SAT test cancellations really scrambled the spring and summer for high school juniors and seniors. Many incoming high school seniors who haven't taken the ACT or SAT yet still hope to do so this fall.
To help families plan, we’ve compiled the latest information about coronavirus and standardized testing.
College Board (the organization that administers the SAT) rescheduled cancelled SAT exams and is offering additional testing dates and locations to give students more flexibility.
Students who registered for the cancelled June 6th SAT received early access to register to take the exam in August, September (new test date) or October. Rising high school seniors planning to graduate in spring 2021 who do not yet have an SAT score will also be able to register early for fall SAT dates.
Currently scheduled remaining 2020 SAT test dates are: Aug. 29, Sep. 26, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5.
Registration for the August 29th test date has been extended until August 18th (with no late fee), and College Board is also offering additional test dates every month up to December. Test dates for 2021 are expected to resume as normal, but are subject to change as the situation continues to develop. Make sure to keep checking SAT test dates and deadlines for new updates.
If you live in a state (like Colorado) where the SAT is given in school to all juniors, in-school administration was cancelled last spring, affecting approximately 770,000 students nationwide. Those states and schools will be assigned a new fall date for testing.
Stay tuned to the College Board website for updates as the situation as evolves.
Similarly, the April ACT exams were cancelled. Students who'd registered for April, June or July test dates who are Class of 2020 or 2021 should have been automatically registered for seats in sites currently open. If your senior was not automatically registered, it could be due to a refund request causing the account to be removed, lack of space in a testing site close enough to your home address, or technical difficulties with duplicate accounts.
Check the ACT website for updates as they add more seats and make other changes to accommodate students. The ACT is currently planning to offer testing on Sept. 12, 13 and 19 and Oct. 10, 17, 24, and 25.
A growing number of colleges and universities around the country (including the entire University of California system) have announced that they will waive standardized test requirements for their next admission cycle.
At some schools, this change will be for one year only; others are instituting a three-year pilot to evaluate the impact. Many schools had gone "test optional" before the pandemic. For a complete list, visit the National Center for Fair and Open Testing website.
Be sure to check the websites of the schools your high school senior plans to apply to for information about updated ACT or SAT requirements.
Students who had incomplete exam submissions will be registered to take exams during the August 24-31 window and eligible students should have been notified by July 27. View the full schedule for online AP exams here.
Students can take the test on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Each question will be timed, and will require written responses that demonstrate strong knowledge of the subject, rather than multiple-choice questions that could potentially be Googled during test-taking.
The tests will be shorter this year — only 45 minutes — but will be scored in the same way (a scale of 1–5) and by the same network of evaluators.
ACT states that they're "confident that the vast majority of higher education institutions will award credit as they have in the past," but this will be up to the individual college or university.
College Board is working to connect students who don’t have access to the internet or internet-capable device with the resources they need to take tests online.
If the SATs or ACTs are administered online, we expect these organizations will provide similar resources, though specific plans have not yet been announced.
ETS, the organization that administers the GRE General Test (used for admission to graduate programs), TOEFL (a widely used English language proficiency assessment), and other exams have made their tests available to be taken online and from home.
They’re also waiving rescheduling fees.
The College Board is providing refunds to any students who had their SAT test date cancelled.
ACT is offering refunds to students who had scheduled a test if they cannot take the test on a rescheduled date or choose not to reschedule.
Because AP exams were offered online, refunds came with a few more restrictions.
ETS-administered tests like the GRE General Test are also not eligible for full refunds since they are making online testing available. However, if you cancel your test four or more days prior to your exam date, you will receive a 50% refund of the registration fee.
In addition to a variety of paid prep programs, ACT offers a free suite of online test prep tools, including live-streamed classes and workshops, online learning tools, and a test practice program. Learn more on their website >
AP Course Prep
The College Board offers live-streamed and prerecorded prep courses for all AP exams on YouTube, available here: www.youtube.com/user/advancedplacement
There are many online resources available for students looking to prep for the SAT. College Board offers a free practice test via Khan Academy, an app for daily practice, access to online study groups, and more.
GRE and TOEFL Prep
Students preparing to take advanced exams offered by ETS, such as the GRE and TOEFL, will find online resources readily available.
The PSAT/NMSQT tests have been rescheduled for October 14, 2020 with alternative testing days on October 17th or 28th. The PSAT 10 tests have been rescheduled for early 2021, with individual schools choosing the date to offer testing between February 22–March 26, 2021 and April 13–30, 2021. Stay tuned to the PSAT site for updates >
CollegiateParent exists to help parents of college and college-bound students navigate the many challenges of the journey, whether practical or personal.
Our Coronavirus Resources page collects articles from professors, parents, students and industry professionals about ways to manage the stress of remote learning, living at home, cancelled graduations and more.