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“On average, students take the SAT and ACT twice before applying to colleges,” writes VOX ATL’s Lauren Ashe. “Some students take it many more times in hopes of receiving the best score possible. Because of COVID-19, these options would be removed, with many students operating on a one-and-done mentality. 

Above photo of her test study materials, taken by the author

With SAT, ACT Tests Postponed Due to COVID-19, Many Juniors Face Uncertainties About College Applications

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As threats of the spread of COVID-19 continue to loom over the world, high school juniors have begun to worry about the disastrous effects that the virus may bring for their college admission process. On April 1, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that all K-12 schools throughout Georgia would be closed for the rest of the academic school year, meaning that schools would now operate via digital learning. ‘

Governor Kemp followed the lead of states such as North Carolina, Virgina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Vermont in closing schools for the rest of the year.

This decision came after President Trump expanded social distancing guidelines through the end of April on March 29. In this, people are expected to not gather in very large groups, which would be inevitable at schools throughout the country. 

As the virus continues to affect the way that people live and operate on a daily basis, high school juniors have begun to think about the toll that COVID-19 will have on the coming months. 

SAT, ACT Testing Is Now On Hold

Last month, many students around the country were preparing to take the SAT on March 14. From studying using prep books to taking expensive prep classes, students were invested in doing well on the test, as it is a very important factor in many college admissions.

Despite this, the College Board cancelled the March 14 administration of the SAT and later the makeup exam scheduled for March 28, due to the virus. Currently the next SAT is scheduled for the first weekend of June, though it still may not be safe to have large gatherings by that date.

Many students have become very worried that the testing dates in the summer will be cancelled. This could bring harmful effects as many students have not taken the test yet. Typically, high school students take the test in the spring, as math learned in the fall is essential in doing well on the test.

“For me, it’s hard because my plan has always been to take the test during the second semester of junior year,” says Junior Deaja Dunbar of St.Pius X Catholic High School. “I would take it in March and again in May. If I wasn’t satisfied with my score in May, I knew I could take it in early fall.”

Many students face the same reality as Dunbar. Juniors around the country must now rethink plans that they have had in place for months, further disrupting the college admission process as a whole. 

“I took a whole SAT prep class to not be able to take the SAT, ” says Junior Morgan Martin of Chamblee Charter High School. “I spent so much time preparing for a test I won’t be able to take before application season.” 

In addition to the SAT, the ACT scheduled for April 4 was cancelled due to COVID-19 as well. ACT, Inc. has given students who were scheduled to take the test on the April 4 the option to take it on the June 13 and July 18 dates, though it is uncertain if those test dates will even take place.

If those dates do not take place, the ACT does not have any other dates scheduled before the fall, meaning that many students would not have the option to take the test. In just a few months, juniors will be applying to colleges and universities around the world, much of which still require standardized testing to be submitted with applications. 

What Happens to Early Decision, Early Action?

With many Early Decision deadlines in October or November, juniors are worried about if they will be able to take the tests in time to reach these deadlines. Early Decision and Early Action pools are essential for many in the application process, with some schools accepting the majority of their students from these pools of applicants. Others want to be able to be committed to a school in the fall rather than waiting until the spring. 

In addition to this, many are concerned about possibly taking the test one time, with little time to improve scores or participate in prep classes because of these early deadlines. 

On average, students take the SAT and ACT twice before applying to colleges. Some students take it many more times in hopes of receiving the best score possible. Because of COVID-19, these options would be removed, with many students operating on a one-and-done mentality. 

Overall, this would largely affect the kinds of scores that colleges receive, which could negatively affect many students. Though some students are able to take the test one time and receive an amazing score, many are not. 

Some Colleges Are Dropping Testing Requirements for Fall 2020

Because of these concerns, in recent weeks,  several schools have dropped standardized testing as an admission requirement for students applying for the fall of 2021. These schools include Boston University, Tufts University, Case Western Reserve, the University of Oregon, Williams College, Oregon State University, Scripps College, the University of the Cumberlands, Davidson College and the University of California. 

These schools join a list of 1,000 other schools that don’t require the standardized testing to be submitted. With this, colleges are aiming to help students who may not have the chance to take the test before it is time to apply. 

Though this may be helpful to many, some students are worried about what this may mean for their application. With standardized testing being a large part of college admissions, many are worried that the absence of these tests will take away from their application.

“If the test does get canceled I will not be celebrating like a lot of people will be,” says Isabella Franco, a junior at St.Pius X Catholic High School. “I was betting on a good ACT score to better my application because my GPA isn’t what I wanted. I was hoping a good ACT score would be the thing that makes my application look really good, but now it looks like that might not even happen.”

With the absence of the ACT, is it inevitable that schools rely on other aspects of your application to judge your capabilities as a student. Juniors believe that these schools will rely more on rigor, GPA and extracurricular activities, which will both help and harm some students. 

“In some ways I do believe that this policy will help me because I’ve done many extracurriculars and have a lot of volunteer hours but I was prepared to get a good score on the ACT to strengthen my application as a whole,” Norcross High School junior Desiree Henderson says. 

What About The Elites?

Further, though some schools have dropped the requirements for standardized testing, it is not guaranteed that all schools will do so. Many students question if all elite colleges and universities will cancel the test because of their academic standards. 

“I’m worried that the schools I am looking to apply to won’t make the test optional so I won’t be able to apply because I don’t have a test score,” says Franco. “I”m hoping that this gets better so i am still able to take the test in the summer.” 

With many questions about what colleges, the College Board and ACT Inc. will do, juniors are navigating on a What-If mindset. With such uncertainty, it is very hard to come up with a game plan to confront the coming months.

With a very strange application season, juniors have a long and very uncertain road ahead of them. 


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