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 fairtest.org 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.