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Coronavirus is making it harder to attempt ACT and SATs

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted college entrance exams during spring, but the chaos is continuing into fall as applicants are experiencing cancellations and long journeys to testing sites. A high school senior from Massachusetts Jeb Bartholomew studied for ACT in February and he was planning to take it two months later. Due to the pandemic, his test date got cancelled 4 times. Now Mr Bartholomew said that he won’t give the ACT at all.  

The College Boards expects only two-thirds of the high school seniors to take the ACT or SATs as a consequence. Multiple applicants are facing test cancellations for some of the exams since June. Also, an increasing number of schools have made these tests optional during the optional due to less number of students opting for it. 

It was revealed by the College Board that they have received around 334,000 student registrations for the SATs on the 26th September and 363,000 for the test on 3rd October. Due to the many of the testing sites shutting down at least 183,000 September registered and 154,000 October registered students won’t be able to give the test. Similarly, almost 53% of the testing centres were also closed in the month of August, leaving only 150,000 students being able to take the test out of 402,000 who registered for the SATs that month.

Students who are determined to take the examination have to travel a long distance to reach the testing sites. Also, the Board needs to maintain social distancing, perform symptom checks and require masks at all testing sites, among other safety protocols. These protocols were also making the students sceptical about taking the test. The test companies have declined giving official statistics although the spokesperson acknowledged that the number of test-takers is going to be lower than in previous years.

Both the organizations have taken steps to combat these hurdles while ensuring as many students as possible can take the tests without endangering their health. The College Board is requesting the Universities to extend their Fall deadlines for submitting entrance test scores. They have added test dates throughout fall. Simultaneously they are also opening pop-up test sites in hotels that haven’t previously been used for Coronavirus testing. Other standardized entrance tests have begun testing remotely since March itself, including The College Boards Advanced Placement exams. But, College Board won’t offer remote SATs this year as they believe there will be inequities in internet access.

Due to COVID-19, two-thirds of all the 4-year universities in the U.S have made these entrance tests optional for fall 2021 admissions. Although it is unclear whether the tests will remain optional in the future.

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