On June 3rd, the College Board posted a blog on their website regarding remote testing for this fall. It was only one month after they announced the new September test date. Previously, College Board guaranteed the fall test dates would happen, no matter what. They would be prepared to deliver the SAT test online, remotely for students at home. It would be similar to how they have administered the AP exams in May and June.
A Change of Plans
Clearly, they have recognized that they won’t be able to pull it off. There is a concern that hundreds of thousands of students may not have a PC or internet service at home. They also recognized that counting on 3-4 hours of uninterrupted internet service even in wealthy, highly-internet-connected neighborhoods is folly. Additionally, they expressed that even if students have dependable internet service, finding that much time without interruptions is likely impossible. There are factors such as siblings, pets, parents, friends, mail delivery, and so on. Simply put, successfully administering the SAT test online isn’t feasible.
Instead, the College Board is doubling down on in-school testing this fall. However, it comes with reduced capacity per test site to meet social distancing requirements. For example, several states hardest hit by the coronavirus – Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey – have required the College Board and the high schools that act as testing sites, to guarantee that they will reduce capacity to between 55 and 60 percent of normal to meet social distancing rules. The College Board also can’t guarantee that there won’t be school closings this fall, which could lead to further cancellations.
In response, the College Board announced that they will add back a January test date for 2021, if necessary. They hinted, once again, that they may add more fall test dates. They confirmed that they are expanding the SAT School Day program to more schools than usual. The School Day program allows large (usually urban) high schools to pay for a unique administration for that school. Underserved students can take the SAT for free, during a regular school day. College Board is planning to expand the number of dates available. They are also making the program available to schools that would not normally qualify.
What Does This Mean for College Admissions?
Because of all of this, the College Board is asking colleges and universities to extend deadlines for accepting score reports. Surprisingly, they are also advising colleges to “(e)qually consider… students… who are unable to take the exam…”, meaning they are implicitly supporting test optional admissions this year. It is uncertain whether colleges and universities will postpone admission deadlines or accept test scores at a date later than usual.