SAT, ACT, APs and More: The Current Status on Testing During the Pandemic

This will be a defining year for all of us – as Americans and global citizens. No country, no industry, and sadly no person will go unchanged in the wake of COVID-19. How we respond and what we do during this crisis matters. This is a teachable moment – for all of us.

I work with students and families every day. Under normal conditions the college admissions process was already wrought with anxiety. Add a worldwide crisis, closed schools and remote learning and you have an exponentially more stressful and confusing process. We are all looking to make sense of something that is clearly out of our control – a virus.

Like you, I find myself questioning what will happen tomorrow. I constantly think about how to best serve my clients, and what advice I should give my students and families. How can anyone predict with certainty the long-term impact COVID-19 will have on schools and the admissions process? At this point, we are all speculating – so here I go adding my own assumptions to the conversation.

What is guaranteed is that people, institutions of learning, and even the College Board will adapt – we always do. The College Board and ACT will do everything within their power to continue to administer exams even if it requires a change in what and how they deliver exams.

It is possible that they will shift to online testing. They will learn from the AP’s and build platforms off of existing technology – the ACT already has computer-based testing options in other countries. Students will have to adapt to new technology, testing styles, and formats. Now that the College Board has announced a new format for AP’s, it is very possible that there are further changes to student testing both in school and on standardized tests. This will really separate the students who are prepared and skilled with tests from those that are not. With less experience preparing for these new test formats, students will be facing unexpected challenges. We will be doing our very best to understand and break down any new test formats so we can pass that information along to our students.

The role of the SAT/ACT will most likely change – if only in the short-term. Many perceive these exams as an achievement test rather than something that is right for everyone. Just like everything in life, there are ebbs and flows to what is “in style” and what is not. Some colleges have been quick to respond to the crisis opting for a test option approach for the Class of 2021. For many students this is a relief and in their best interest – but not for all. Some students need those exams to complete their story.

We will be expanding our offerings to not only serve students who are prepping for these exams but also help those who will not be taking full SAT/ACT exams, utilizing AP’s and subject tests instead. That means to stand out in the grand scheme of things, you need to have something on your proverbial resume that speaks to a college. For many students, the SAT or ACT is a great way to show competence.

In the midst of these difficult times, I think it is important for us to send students a strong message. This message should be of hope and opportunity. The silver lining in all of this is that students now have ample time to develop some new passions. They can spend extra time studying for and mastering the SAT and ACT. They also, hopefully, have the time to better understand their passions and develop them. With our support, students will get through this.