How Does the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Impact SAT and ACT Testing?
UPDATE: Testive’s web page, testive.com/COVID, contains the newest updates.
Please bookmark that page and check it for updates going forward, thanks!
Spring Testing has been canceled
On April 15, 2020, College Board (maker of SAT) announced that it would be canceling the last of its spring testing. One week later, (an interestingly long time afterward) ACT made an announcement but didn’t mention hardly anything new at all. Very strange. ACT also did not cancel its June and July test dates, which will almost certainly not happen. More on that below.
Fall testing is fairly certain to happen
College Board (maker of SAT) announced that it would be running test dates in the fall no matter what, COVID or no-COVID. How will they do this? If schools are open, they are going to do in-person, paper & pencil test dates just as usual. If schools are still closed, they said that they are going to run at-home, online testing for the SAT. This is an ENORMOUS announcement. The technology, content, process, staffing, policy, security, and distribution needed to run at-home SAT testing is gargantuan. The pledge is so gigantic that it would almost seem implausible, except that College Board built the technology to do at-home, online AP testing this spring. Amazing! So, College Board is clearly investing big money in the capability to do at-home testing, which makes their announcement credible, and so we are treating it as credible. ACT hasn’t said anything about this. The only thing they have announced is that they will do “digital” testing in the Fall, which is not a new announcement and also does nothing to address COVID because their digital testing still requires an in-person school or testing center.
What test dates will be available for testing in the Fall?
College Board (maker of the SAT) has said that it will run tests in every calendar month from August through the end of 2020 (which they normally do anyway, except for September). They also said that they would be opening signup for the fall tests “in May”. They said they would do “early registration” for Juniors who have never taken an SAT before and for people whose tests were canceled. They said that they would open enrollment for others in “the week of May 26th”. However, we don’t know exactly when these things will happen and we expect the schedules to change. We will send a notice to all of our newsletter subscribers as soon as we hear about that opportunity. The signup availability may happen regionally, so it may happen in some areas before others. The ACT hasn’t made any announcement about changes to the fall testing schedule, so we expect the regular testing schedule (paired back as school availability due to COVID allows.)
Will the ACT June and July tests run?
We highly doubt that the ACT will run testing in June and July. You can actually still sign up for those tests. They will almost certainly be canceled or at least canceled most places. (Remember that schools haven’t been open in months, so it is unlikely that they will suddenly pop open just for this one function.
What does “digital” ACT mean?
The ACT announced that it would run “digital” testing in the fall. This is not a new announcement and does not address COVID concerns because their digital testing occurs at schools, and in testing centers. Other features they are planning to release include “section retesting” where you can sit to retake only a single section of the ACT, rather than the whole thing. And also “superscoring” where the ACT will also report a score to colleges which is a mixture of your personal best sections scores over multiple sittings. Adoption of this will take several years, so doesn’t heavily affect strategy for the 2020 college application season, but in future seasons, it will be a good reason to preferentially take the ACT.
Should I take the SAT or ACT?
Most people should probably orient around the SAT for testing in the Fall. Colleges accept scores from either test indiscriminately, so the main question is which test will you perform the best on. There is a new factor to consider now: which test am I most likely to be able to take?! In that department, the SAT is looking MUCH more likely to successfully administer testing in the Fall, so if you have no reason to back one test in particular, then I would pick the SAT.
But what about those people that DO have a good reason to take the ACT? Suppose you have taken the ACT already, and you really just want another opportunity to improve your scores. What do you do then? Well, that’s a tough judgment call, and it’s subjective. If you’re sitting on a score that’s probably good enough to go to the college you want, then stick with the ACT, and roll the dice on whether they’ll have testing in the fall. If you DO NOT yet have a score that you need to get into the college you want to go to, then you should strongly consider re-mapping your strategy to the SAT so that you can be assured that you’ll be able to get a seat in a test session in the fall.
ACT will probably be offering some kind of test seats in the fall. They need the revenue to stay in business, so while we don’t currently know what will happen with ACT, they’ll presumably come up with something.
Will there be a shortage of test seats?
In the case that the test is still offered in-person, they will definitely run out of spots. We are predicting a major short-fall of test-seats. Even with an extra test date, they will still be approximately 600,000 test-seats short of demand. (Even with the assumption that state-wide-school-based-accountability testing is postponed or canceled for 2020.)
If my test was canceled, what should I do?
This answer really depends on the amount of prep you have already completed and the amount of times you have taken the test already. If you have yet to take an official test and have not begun prepping yet, then the time to start is now. The August test is a few months away and this is an ample time to get started and get into a consistent study rhythm. If you had been prepping already for say a March, April, or May test you may want to consider taking some time off to give yourself a break, maybe 4-6 weeks if you are planning to take the August test.
When should I start prep?
If you are a Junior, you should be starting prep in May to get ready for a presumptive August test date. You need 3-4 months of prep to do your best work, and we are already inside that window. (Do not wait to have a signed up test-date to begin prep, because that will be too late.) The optimal test-prep and testing schedules that we recommend for Sophomores (and earlier) is to do test-prep in the summer before Junior year, and plan to take one of the August or September sittings of the test. This was the optimal schedule before COVID and remains the optimal schedule now. So, no change. Like always, start early so that you have room. Juniors are in a bit of a different boat as there will be fewer spots and fewer tests to choose from so try and get yourself signed up for as many as you can fit in. Watch your email inbox for notice that there are new test dates available, and immediately sign up for the soonest one you can get a spot in. If you are planning to sit for the August test I would recommend reserving your spot for a coach ASAP as once June hits there will be plenty of students looking to start prep with the August test as their primary target.
When can I sign up for test spots?
Students can register for the SAT during the month of May for upcoming SAT test dates. College Board will contact students during the week of May 26 to provide test date information. Students can get early access to register for August, September, and October if they’re:
- Already registered for June
- In the high school class of 2021 and don’t have SAT scores
The registration deadline for the June ACT is May 8th, however it will most likely be cancelled, and then the next registration deadline is June 19th for the July 18th ACT. It is recommended to register as early as possible so you have the chance to take an SAT or ACT this summer.
What are the recommended times to take the test?
As soon as you can, you should sign-up for two test dates. You want these to be 3 months (or at least 2 months) apart so that you have time to get your scores back and do some corrective prep in between.
- August/November (3-months)
- September/December (3-months)
- August/October (2-months)
- September/November (2-months)
How will college admissions dates change?
Early admissions starts as early as October, which is why you’re trying to get your tests done AS SOON as possible during the fall.
- LAST CHANCE test, try really hard, you may only get one shot. It’s like SAT prep was in the 90’s again. Everyone basically gets 1 chance.
With more free time this summer and fewer distractions, your student can focus now on the future, by taking an online practice test and learning which types of practice questions to focus on between now and the upcoming SAT or ACT exam.
It’s easy to register, and you will also receive an invitation to a free college admissions webinar, to review the current state of SAT/ACT exam offerings, and to learn important information about the college admissions best practices for 2020-2021.
Sign up to reserve your spot today at: http://testive.com/free-practice-test/, and select the day (Wednesday or Saturday) and your test (SAT or ACT).
Have questions? Contact a Student Success Advisor for a free consultation at http://testive.com/schedule-a-call.
Updated as of 4/16/20
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted communities across the globe, and we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of this virus. At Testive our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students, so we want to ensure that you have the latest information. How does the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) impact SAT and ACT testing? In this blog post you will learn more about the SAT and ACT’s proactive decisions with prevention and containment measures.
Many test centers began closing out of concern for the spread of COVID-19 prior to the March 14 SAT. The College Board rescheduled some of those exams for other dates in March, and moved others to test centers that remained open.
However, the level of caution has increased dramatically since then. The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that “large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States,” and their official recommendation is that for the next 8 weeks, organizers “cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.” How does the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) impact SAT and ACT testing? Read below:
How has COVID-19 Affected the SAT?
Accordingly, the College Board has announced that the May 2, 2020 and June 6, 2020 SAT’s have been cancelled nationwide. They have also cancelled all tests that were rescheduled from March 14 to later in the month. As of 4/15/20, the next scheduled SAT is on 8/29/20.
You can read more about the SAT and COVID-19 here: https://pages.collegeboard.org/sat-covid-19-updates. Registration for fall SAT administrations will open in May. The College Board will contact students directly to provide an exact date when it’s available.
How has COVID-19 Affected the ACT?
The ACT has rescheduled the April 4, 2020 test to June 13, 2020 nationwide. Students who are registered for the April 4 test will receive an email informing them of the postponement, with instructions to register for the rescheduled test in June. They have not announced what will generally happen with school-based weekday tests yet. You can read more about the ACT and COVID-19 here: https://www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html.
When Will I Be Able to Take the SAT or ACT?
We recommend that at this point you assume tests will proceed as planned this summer. This could still change, but what won’t change is that colleges and universities will continue to use the SAT and ACT as predictors of student academic success as part of their applications. If it is within the realm of possibility for you — given health, resources, and the upending of your work, school, and family life — you should for the SAT and ACT so that you’re ready for success whenever you are able to take it.
The Bottom Line:
- March 14, 2020 SAT is cancelled.
- March rescheduled SAT dates are cancelled.
- May 2, 2020 SAT is cancelled.
- June 6, 2020 SAT is cancelled.
- April 4, 2020 ACT is postponed to June 13, 2020.
- You should monitor your school-based weekday SATs and ACTs scheduled for this spring to stay up to date on whether they will go ahead as planned or not.
- If possible, you should prepare, or continue to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT with the assumption that it will go forward this summer.
COVID-19 has impacted all of us, and it will take all of us to ensure we get through this pandemic together. We hope that you, your family, and your friends are safe and healthy. If you would like to discuss your personal test preparation needs with Testive, we offer free consultation calls with our Student Success Advisors. We offer personalized, adaptive software and 1-on-1 online coaching for the SAT and the ACT. Sign up for a free online Practice ACT or SAT test at: http://testive.com/free-practice-test.