October 26, 2020

Colleges drop testing requirements amid Coronavirus pandemic

Joshua Nangle ’21, Co-News Editor

As colleges go test optional, the College Board and the ACT maintain their commitment to admit their respective tests. Photo courtesy of Alberto G.

Colleges across the country have dropped or temporarily suspended testing requirements for applicants due to the cancellations of both the SAT and ACT because of Coronavirus restrictions.

According to Inside Higher Ed, seventeen colleges had dropped testing requirements as of March 30. The New York Times reports that since then, over 24 colleges and universities have become test-optional in one form or another. Inside Higher Ed specifically reports that Boston University has dropped SAT/ACT requirements for the next two semesters. Other colleges, such as Tufts University, are dropping testing requirements for three years. The University of Oregon and Oregon State University are no longer requiring the SAT or ACT at all.

The College Board emailed those whose tests were canceled on April 15 to address the cancellation of the June 6 SAT and SAT Subject Tests. This reporter received one himself. The email addressed the College Board’s next steps in order to get the SAT to students.

“If it’s safe from a public health standpoint, we’ll provide weekend SAT administrations every month through the end of the calendar year, beginning in August,” read the email. “This includes a new administration in September, in addition to the previously scheduled tests.”

The email also states that students in the graduating class of 2021 who have yet to take the SAT will receive “early access to registration for the August, September, and October administrations.” These students will receive notification via email in May, which is when registration for the SAT begins.

In addition, the College Board is planning a digital administration of the SAT  if schools are not open in the fall.   This way, students can take the test at home. Therefore, it seems that students will still have the opportunity to take the SAT, even if it happens later than usual.

These multiple opportunities will give students the opportunity to take the exam in time to send to colleges they are applying to. Audrey Wang ’21 feels better knowing these multiple options for admitting the test are in place.

“I feel less stressed because I know that colleges and organizations like the College Board are going to be more understanding and accommodating because of this pandemic,” said Wang.

As of April 27, the ACT will offer admissions of their exam on June 13. Registration for the June 13 admission must occur before May 8.

High school guidance counselor Margaret Walendin says that colleges that become test-optional will look at other parts of student applications in greater depth.

“The first part of the application that becomes more critical is the transcript. Numbers and academics tend to comprise fifty percent of the application, so if there are no standardized test scores, the transcript becomes more important as an indicator of academic ability,” said Walendin.

Walendin also shares her advice for current juniors who are dealing with standardized testing amid these added challenges.

“I still think it is a good idea to try the SAT or ACT and have it just in case. If you have it and don’t need it, you are all set…but if you need it and don’t have it, that’s more of a problem,” said Walendin.

The graduating class of 2021 will have an unprecedented college education experience. Even though certain universities have dropped their testing requirements for some period of time, if not permanently, the College Board and ACT have pledged to offer admissions of their exams in some format for juniors. That being said, Walendin recommends still taking standardized testing so that students do not run into issues down the road. 

“But I would not worry if I were a junior and had not taken it yet. The current juniors will have a different application experience in terms of standardized testing requirements. If I were a junior and had not yet taken standardized testing, and there were testing options starting in the summer, I would still give one a shot to have just in case,” said Walendin.

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