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How coronavirus is affecting the SATs

BY LINDSEY CONGER*

Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, more and more countries have been affected. Now recognized as a pandemic by WHO, the disease has had some unexpected effects, including on students’ preparations for college. 

Students worldwide have been left frustrated when the ACT and the College Board (the administrator of the SAT) closed test sites in February, March, April, and May. The College Board canceled tests in more than 15 countries impacted by COVID-19, including China, Italy, and South Korea. 

The ACT was shut down in China for the February 7 and 8 test. As the situation continues to progress in the United States, the ACT made the decision to postpone the April 4 test in the United States to June 13. The ACT will continue to monitor the outbreak and might close more sites and reschedule more dates if required.  

More than 120 US testing states for the March 14 SAT were also canceled, with little to no notice sent to the students who spent months preparing for the critical test. Another recent statement from the College Board revealed that the May 2 SAT test date would be completely canceled. While students are given the option to take the test at an upcoming date at no additional charge, that might be months after they finished their test prep course. 

At this time, it is unclear how these closures will affect students taking the exams, or if more SAT and ACT sites will be closed in the upcoming months. Students should check their emails and the official ACT and College Board websites to get more information on cancellations and rescheduling of their exams. 

The NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counseling) has encouraged universities to be more lenient and flexible with their admission deadlines for the upcoming admission cycle. However, higher education institutions will not be required to follow this recommendation. If you have been affected by COVID-19, you should reach out to the universities directly. 

For those students who are unable to take the exam, considering test-optional universities might be a good solution. These types of universities don’t require their students to submit an SAT or ACT score when applying. However, international students will still need to prove their English language proficiency through the IELTS or TOEFL exams. 

It is clear COVID-19 is going to continue to have serious repercussions on the world. How large of an impact it has on students applying to US universities in 2020 remains to be seen.

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*Lindsey Conger is a college counselor for MoonPrep.

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