In April, the College Board cancelled the March, May, and June SAT dates. Immediately, millions of high school juniors saw their college application and testing timeline crumble before their eyes. Each year, approximately half of high school juniors take the SAT for the first time on the March test date. Of the remaining half, some juniors take the SAT early. Far more wait until May or June of junior year to take the test for the first time. That means that most current juniors lost their planned first chance to take the SAT. Junior year test prep is still an important part of the coronavirus college admission timeline. Here’s what you need to know.
New SAT Test Dates
Luckily, the College Board has made two announcements. First, the College Board has added a new test date on Saturday, September 26th, 2020. This brings the total number of Fall 2020 test dates to five: August, September, October, November, and December. Second, the College Board promised that they would not cancel any further test dates due to the current coronavirus pandemic. This applies even in the case of stay-in-place orders continuing or renewing in the fall.
The College Board is working on a system for administering the SAT remotely. This way students can take the SAT on their own computers from home. A remote SAT administration will be complicated. Fortunately, the College Board is testing out their system right now as they administer the Advanced Placement (AP) exams remotely. Additionally, the College Board may have plans to add more test dates, such as one in July. Historically, the College Board has held private test dates for individual high schools. Usually, this is for very large schools with underserved populations. However, it is possible that College Board will expand this program to more high schools this fall. This would broaden the testing opportunities for may high school students.
ACT Changes in the Works
As for the ACT, they haven’t cancelled any further test dates since April. However, the test-makers were already planning big changes to the ACT starting this coming September. The ACT has been beta testing computer-based administrations for almost a decade. Starting this fall, students who have already taken at least one full administration of the ACT will be able to register for a single section, or more, in order to focus on scores that need more improvement. It is likely that ACT is also planning remote, in-home testing, but nothing has been announced.
Whether you as a junior, or your child (if you are a parent), have taken an actual SAT or ACT yet, or not, you will likely want to take one or both tests this fall, at least once, if not more often. If you were registered for either of the March, May, or June SAT dates, or the April ACT date, the test-makers have likely been in touch with you via email to encourage you to switch your registration to a fall test date. Do this as soon as possible. The fall test dates are going to fill up rapidly.
Plan to take the SAT or ACT at least twice. This is a safe approach in case you need to improve a specific result to meet your personal score goals. Given how confusing the current college application landscape is, it is better to have more results to share with college admissions offices than fewer. If you plan to apply to a highly selective college, save a test date for the SAT Subject Tests. Many highly prestigious colleges have announced plans to go test-optional for Subject Tests. However, the most ambitious students won’t skip the Subject Tests; you shouldn’t either.
Stay the Course
Despite the recent cancellations, there are plenty of opportunities to take the SAT and ACT over the summer and fall. Try not to focus on your anxiety about missed opportunities. Instead, craft a plan to meet your testing needs in the time that remains before your application deadlines. Coronavirus college admission is different, but much remains the same.
Canceled test dates and school closures shouldn’t mean disruptions to your college admission goals. Take the next steps in prep with our free online SAT & ACT foundations class.