Testing in a Time of Uncertainty

Facing school closures, unfamiliar online curriculums, cancelled SAT/ACT test dates, and a completely overhauled AP exam administration, families of high school students are rightfully unsure about how the college process for this year’s class and beyond will turn out. While we must bear the uncertainty for now – in testing, school, and in general – I do have some tips about how to manage the testing process in this time of instability.

Here are five ideas to consider as you try to formulate your approach to testing and the college process.

Fluid Test Date Planning: As of now, the June SAT and ACT dates are still on, but I think we have all considered that these dates might not happen, as well. So as you plan your tutoring, consider what your backup test dates would be and how you would reorganize your tutoring sessions to run up to that date.

For SAT, after June, you have August and October at the very least. Colleges may push application deadlines back, so it’s possible that the November and December dates may become viable as well. For ACT, you have July, September, and October, along with December if the deadlines are pushed back.
For both tests, additional test dates may also be announced.

Aggressive Scheduling: Once the test dates are confirmed, a rush of students will sign up who were unable to test in March and May, traditionally two of the most popular SAT dates, or in April, a popular ACT date. So, even if you are unsure which test dates will run, I recommend signing up for any test date you would use as early as possible. That way, you are assured a spot if the date is good, and if the date is cancelled, you will be automatically rescheduled to the next available date. Furthermore, you’ll get to pick your location, as opposed to having to travel somewhere far away because of availability constraints.

Keeping Up with The News: News about the tests is breaking very quickly. Just a week or so ago, the College Board (CB) announced that AP testing would be conducted entirely online and would consist solely of free-response questions. Then, CB announced free AP preparation available on YouTube. And just yesterday, CB announced that the AP exams will be open note. It’s easy to miss these rapid-fire announcements with so much general news coming out every day.
Please give us a call if you need any updates – we’re always on top of the breaking news.

Practice Testing: Since there aren’t official test dates for the next couple of months, consider scheduling one for yourself. We can send you a link to an official SAT or ACT practice test and instructions on how to take it. You can set a date, start at 9:00 AM sharp, and follow all of the parameters of the actual test. Then, you can send the bubble sheet to us and we can generate a score report for you.

Experience with full practice tests and testing endurance are two key components to maximizing your score and staying sharp. Even without official test dates, you can largely replicate the experience yourself.

An Open Mind: There are a lot of possible outcomes for testing and school as a whole for the class of 2021. Many schools are temporarily going test-optional – Tufts and BU among them – and more announcements of that policy are very likely. If you haven’t tested already, and future test dates are mostly cancelled, then test-optional may be much more widespread than it has been in recent years.

The AP exams and the GRE will now be given to testers at home and on the computer. Can the SAT and ACT be far behind? It’s possible an in-home SAT/ACT option will emerge.

And as stated, colleges are rapidly adapting to meet the changing needs of their students and applicants. It is likely that many will push back admission deadlines to accommodate applicants and encourage more applications. You may have more time to settle your situation than you think.

Finally, there are much more important things than testing going on right now, so don’t let the testing process create stress for you. Your physical and mental health come first. Not knowing your plan right now is absolutely fine. None of us quite know what will happen in the near-future. In the meantime please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time with any questions or concerns. We’re here to lessen the stress by helping you to create a strategy, provide support, or just listen.

Please call us with questions – we’re here to help!