Standardized Testing in a COVID-19 World

By Nicole Bozick

The Changing Testing Landscape

When COVID-19 struck, we saw nationwide closures to schools, testing sites, and businesses that support students.

The implications of the coronavirus have caused the College Board and the ACT to cancel and delay tests.

For example, the organizations both canceled tests this past March, April, and May. The June SAT was canceled, but the June ACT just happened at a select list of locations that were able to open in compliance with state, county, local, or building ordinances and guidelines.

There are quite a few colleges that have now shifted to test-optional and test flexible admissions policies due to the coronavirus. In fact, there are over 1,200 accredited, 4-year colleges and universities with ACT/SAT-optional testing policies for Fall 2021 admission.

What’s the Impact?

We’ve seen the impact in a few areas:

1: Students are having to take a hard look at how well they’ve prepped before the cancellations to see if they have scores to submit as consideration for candidacy.

Even if they do have scores to submit, many colleges and universities are not accepting standardized testing for admission for the next 1-3 years.

2: Historically, standardized testing was one of the considerations for scholarship aid for entering college students. Without this being an option at many schools, families are having to get creative and look at other ways to find scholarship dollars.

3: This waiting game definitely does a number on the mental health of our high school students. These tests take hours of studying, prep, and review. Having to cancel, even weeks before the exams, has caused stress and anxiety for families and students nationwide.

Testing Policies decoded and next steps

What’s the difference between all of the new policies?

• The most common is test-optional, which means you can choose to withhold your standardized testing results if you feel they take away from your application strength, or in this case, were unable to sit for the exams.

Test-flexible means instead of the SAT or ACT, you can submit other testing results, such as 3 separate SAT subject tests.

• A test-blind college will not consider test scores, even if you submit them

What to do next?

My two biggest pieces of advice: stay organized and communication is key!

• First, get your list of colleges organized in a spreadsheet with application deadlines, required materials for submission, and any changes or modifications to their standardized testing plan. **for ex: in leu of scores, some schools will look for students to interview with one of their admissions representatives.

• Second, keep all of your top choice schools’ websites bookmarked on your computers and make sure to check them regularly for any changes to their admissions policies. If you aren’t already getting emails from the school, make sure to reach out to the admissions office and get on their email lists, too!

Additionally, some great resources are and NACAC. They have regularly updated databases of all test-optional schools and changes to policies.

It is important that students understand how these changes can impact admission, scholarships, and other factors. We understand that students and families are worried about testing and how this will affect their candidacy. My advice at this time is to take a deep breath and trust the process. We know it’s stressful, but every high school student in the country and the world is in the same boat and we’re working through it together.

Fusion Can Help

At Fusion, our suggestion is to still plan to take the SAT or ACT if this was part of your college plan previously. As we continue to see more openings nationwide, we hope that sites will become more and more available for students to sit for the exams. There have been talks about administering it online, but this is not confirmed at this time.

If possible, sign up early for any upcoming exams as capacity is limited. Additionally, work with a test prep program to grow in confidence, preparedness, and to stay constantly informed on the happenings of all things testing as we navigate this through COVID-19.

Fusion is committed to helping support our students with their post-secondary endeavors. We have robust test prep services, should students be applying to college and choose to submit scores for their candidacy. To learn more, click here.


An interview I did on this subject:

About the Author

Director of Post-Secondary Services

Nicole joined the Fusion family in 2014 and has served a variety of roles, such as Director of Admissions and Outreach, Regional Director of Admissions and Outreach (RDAO), Director of Leadership Growth and Engagement, and Director of Post-Secondary Services. In her current role, Nicole is committed to serving our families in a powerful way with their post-secondary plans.

Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Communication from Muhlenberg College. She also holds a certificate in College Counseling from UC San Diego. Before joining the Fusion team, Nicole worked in Higher Education as Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at her alma mater in Allentown, PA, as well as at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. After moving to Texas, she served as Director of Admissions for a Pre-K -12th grade International Baccalaureate private school where she discovered her passion for working with students at the secondary school level.

Nicole brings enthusiasm to her work and is excited to support all of Fusion’s campuses with their leadership and post-secondary needs. Ask her about her love for puppies (beagles, specifically!), chocolate, coffee, and running with her husband and son. The secret to all of her energy… lots of coffee and dark chocolate!