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SAT, ACT and AP: What students need to know about testing during the pandemic

HOUSTON – While college orientations and even fall classes on campuses across the country are still in question, some high school students are in limbo. They are unable to take the required tests needed for college applications. ACT, SAT and Advanced Placement tests are on hold right now. Sitting down in a room full of students for hours is just not allowed. Many students are wondering what’s next.

What’s happening

Adriana Wilson with Project Grad Houston said colleges and universities are also trying to figure out what to do.

“A lot of colleges now are looking at making those test scores optional,” Wilson said. “So the SAT and ACT could possibly be optional for college application.”

Still, she says students shouldn’t opt of of those tests just yet.

“Just because it’s optional, doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it,” she explained. “This is an extra thing you can add to your college application to show that you are prepared.”

New testing dates

Right now, the next national test date for the ACT is June 13. Students who were registered to test in April were asked to re-register in June or a future national test date and refunded their registration fees. Students have until May 8 to register.

The ACT was already planning to roll out online testing before COVID-19 happened. The first online tests begin in September 2020.

The AP test, which allows high school students to earn college credit and placement, can now be taken from home using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Students can even write their responses and submit photos online.

The SAT test will be administered in person, beginning in August, if everything is safe. There will be tests one weekend every month, starting in August and running through December.

Even if colleges consider grades and test scores differently this year, because of COVID-19, Wilson said there are two factors that will still be important to college application:

  1. The volunteer section
  2. The essay

Wilson said students should channel some of those emotions into writing about how this has impacted them, or their fears. how they feel they might better the world by going to college and learning about things that can help to prevent these kinds of things in the future.

For volunteer hours, Wilson said students can join letter-writing campaigns to first responders, or gather supplies for masks or even food donations, all of which can be done from home.

Advisors from Project Grad Houston are now doing virtual appointments to help students navigate these times.