“We all had to stand in line for about 20 minutes because we had to agree to statements regarding our health and COVID, which stunk. Then we were all divided into rooms with no more than 9 kids at a time. Nothing too crazy but it was definitely different!”
“The testing center was very disorganized, and we had to wait for over an hour to even go to the testing room. They made us wear masks throughout the exam which was a little annoying.”
These actual statements from actual students who took the actual SAT on August 29 should be taken as both precautionary warnings and signs of hope.
What is the warning? The test makers and site supervisors are committed to enforcing health and safety measures for SAT and ACT administrations. Expect the following on test day:
— All students and staff must wear masks or protective face coverings during testing.
— Students must be seated at least six feet apart during testing.
— Students must confirm a series of safety screening statements prior to entering the test center or room.
If you’re planning to take the SAT or ACT this fall, you should not only have a comfortable mask packed for your test, but you should also practice with that mask, preferably full four-hour exams under simulated test conditions.
Where is the hope? A lot of students, parents, and educators feared this day would never come. When College Board announced way back in April that no SAT would be offered until August, the announcement felt premature, especially in light of ACT’s commitment to June and July administrations. But the rolling waves of both proactive and last-minute cancellations at one test center after another that plagued those summer tests hardly abated going into the end of August. I personally know families that have seen their teens’ testing plans frustrated over and over. Other families have committed to road trips of hundreds of miles just to find an open test center… only to find the school closed the morning of the SAT or ACT. It’s fair to say that signing up for a college entrance exam these days is practically as stressful and challenging as taking one!
Yet, despite of all the fear, anxiety, and outcry, tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of high schoolers did take the SAT this past weekend. Hundreds of thousands more will take the tests over the next two months. When someone tells you, “I heard all testing is cancelled this fall,” consider my friend and colleague Brian Eufinger‘s concise reply:
“We have the August SAT, and then 12 days later Sept ACT and then 1 day later ACT and then 6 days later ACT and makeup SAT and then 4 days later School Day SAT and then 3 days later SAT and then 7 days later SAT and then 3 days later School Day ACT and then 7 days later ACT and then 4 days later PSAT and School Day SAT and then 7 days later ACT and then 7 days later ACT and then 1 day later ACT.”
That doesn’t even include Sunday and unlisted testing. Suffice to say, testing opportunities abound for high school seniors and juniors this fall.
Obviously, nothing about navigating the current environment is easy. Thanks to confluence of unfortunate circumstances, finding and registering at an open test center is tougher than usual. Learning about site cancellations is tougher than usual. Even signing in and taking the SAT or ACT is tougher than usual… as if the tests weren’t already tough enough. But the extra effort will absolutely make a difference for students seeking admissions at competitive colleges and universities. No matter how many schools say they are test optional, excellent scores always help hard working students stand out.
So let’s make the most of this fall. Great outcomes on test day have always depended on commitment, tenacity, and, very often, expert help. Even under adverse circumstances, working together, you (or your teen or your student) can find, register for, prepare for, and ace an SAT or ACT this fall!