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If your SAT/ACT was canceled or postponed this year, rest assured, you are not alone.

The Covid-19 situation is rapidly evolving around the world, and as a result local test centres have had to shut down or reduce capacity. The earlier SAT test dates in June were cancelled and even some of the rescheduled tests in August and September have been cancelled. The ACT has even announced cancellations for the December and February 2021 international test dates.

In fact, The College Board, the organization that administers the SAT test, released a statement that ‘of the 402,000 students signed up to take it on August 29, at least 178,600 will not be able to do so’. It is anticipated that more testing locations could close in the next few weeks and hence students should check both their email and the test center pages frequently until their test date.

Under these unprecedented circumstances, it is becoming evident that rescheduling to a later date might not be feasible for thousands of high school seniors over the world. Colleges certainly recognize that these circumstances are beyond your control, and this year’s admission requirements have been adjusted accordingly. So if you fall into this boat, here is how you can proceed with your college applications.

1. Understand the difference between test optional, test blind, test flexible schools and apply accordingly

Even though several colleges have suspended their requirements for standardized testing for the Fall 2021 intake, their policies regarding how they evaluate test scores do vary so make sure to check each college’s website for exact guidelines.

To make sense of these guidelines, here is some jargon that you will need to familiarize yourself with:

  • Test optional – A test optional admission policy means that it is not compulsory for a student to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of the application, but if scores are completed they will be considered.
  • Test flexible – This policy means that colleges will now be accepting a list of other test scores that are acceptable in place of SAT/ACT scores. This normally includes subject SATs, IB Diploma, A level scores or predicted scores.
  • Test blind – These are schools that do not require SAT/ACT scores, and even if they have been submitted, they will not consider these scores in their application review.

With over 1450 colleges, the vast majority of schools are test optional. This includes top colleges such as Columbia University, Amherst college, and University of Chicago.

As for test flexible colleges, the specifics of their policies can vary from school to school, and so you should check the websites of your colleges of interest to make sure you’re fulfilling the application requirements. New York University (NYU) is one such test flexible college that will accept a variety of scores in lieu of SAT/ACT. Only a few colleges are test-blind, including CalTech.

2. Improve the rest of your application

Now that one component of your application is no longer available, it goes without saying that other components of your application such as your academic performance in school and your profile will come under greater scrutiny. Hence, you’ll need to optimize other aspects of your application to stay competitive.

Although you may not have the option to take part in various events or extracurriculars, there are a growing number of ways to stay engaged online. In particular, an aspect of your application that is entirely under your control is the essay. This can be a tricky part of your application, so do make sure to dedicate enough time to crafting a perfect essay and get as much feedback as possible.

3. If you are a junior, i.e. applying for the 2022 intake, or on a gap year, recognize that some of these policies are temporary.

Changes to the standardized testing requirements are a direct response to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, and some of these changes in application requirements are temporary. You should continue to prepare for the SAT/ACT to keep your options open.

At Prep Zone Academy, we provide a number of resources to continue practicing for both tests, as well as tailor-made classes. If you have any questions about testing, drop us a message!

Navigating the college admissions process with the added uncertainties of test cancellations can be difficult, so if you would like to seek help to discuss your options, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our admissions consultants.

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