The COVID-19 Pandemic has frustrated the standardized testing plans of many juniors this spring. This article explains the latest changes to the SAT and ACT testing for the rest of 2020 and makes recommendations to current juniors and sophomores to help them set a course for testing success!
WHAT are the LATEST CHANGES to the SAT and ACT?
SAT Test Updates
All three SATs have been cancelled this spring, disappointing many juniors who counted on taking the March, May, or June tests.
But students should stay upbeat and positive. Juniors are still in a good position to succeed with SAT testing and will have several more opportunities to take (or retake) the test. College Board is adding a national test date in September, and will offer one test per month in the fall.
The upcoming fall 2020 test dates are:
And most importantly, "in the unlikely event that schools don't reopen this fall, the College Board will provide a digital SAT for home use". The online SAT will use a remote proctoring system and according to College Board, will be "simple, secure and fair, accessible to all, and valid for use in college admissions". The College Board is already providing at home digital testing for the Advanced Placement exams this May. So student can rely on being able to take the SAT test this fall!
Any student applying early action or early decision this fall can still take three SAT tests (in August, September and October) and have results available before the November 1 deadline. Students applying regular decision can take any of the five fall tests.
Registration for fall SAT dates will begin at the end of May. Students can get early access to register for August, September, and October if they were already registered for the June SAT, or are juniors who have not yet taken any official SATs.
ACT Test Updates
The spring ACT in April has been cancelled.
However, "as CDC and local guidelines for safety allow", the ACT is still offering in-person national test dates on June 13 and July 18. Although June and July test dates have not been cancelled, since NJ schools will remain closed through the end of the school year, local students will not have test centers to take these tests.
The ACT is scheduled on these dates in 2020:
The ACT stated that in addition to the fall test dates, it will "also offer a remote proctoring option for the ACT test in late fall/early winter 2020, allowing students to take the test at their home on a computer". More information about this option will be available in the coming weeks.
The June, July and September ACT dates will have scores available in time for November 1 early application deadline. All five test dates will have scores back for regular application deadlines.
Also starting this September, the ACT will be offering new testing options:
- Section Retesting: Allows students to retake one specific test section, instead of the full test. This is available to all students who have already taken one full ACT test. Students may take up to three section retests on any one test date.
There are no limits on the number of times a student may take a retest. Retests will be offered seven times a year, on the same dates as the national ACT test.
- Superscoring: Allows students to use their best (individual) section scores to calculate their best overall composite score. Although colleges set their own policies regarding superscoring, the ACT will encourage them to use students' superscores.
(Note: practically all colleges superscore the SAT.)
WHAT’S the BEST PLAN for MY STUDENT?
Suggestions for Juniors...
Take a full length Practice Test! Get a realistic baseline score under timed conditions. Form an optimal plan for summer preparation to achieve your testing goal!
Choose the SAT over the ACT! If in-person testing is still not possible in the early fall, the SAT will be available to take online, while the ACT will not be online until "late fall/early winter". Last thing upcoming seniors need is to prepare for a test they are unable to take. For now, the SAT is the more reliable test.
Take at least two SATs in the early fall. Students should have at least two (if not three) opportunities to take the SAT and maximize their superscore! All three early fall tests (August 29, September 26, October 3) will have results available in time for the early application deadline of November 1. Students applying regular decision can choose from all five test dates.
Register as soon as possible, once the window opens in late May. The early fall SATs are going to be very popular so make sure to register early! Juniors who were registered for the June test or have not taken any official SATs yet will have priority. More time to register will be available for the November 7 and December 5 dates.
Master Algebra 2! If you are taking Algebra 2 this year, it is very important to become proficient with the new material to be successful on the SAT. Approximately one third of SAT math content is based on Algebra 2.
Stay Positive! Colleges understand what students have been going through and many are making standardized testing optional for the class of 2021. Even so, upcoming seniors still have time to showcase their best scores and to stand out from the crowd!
Suggestions for Sophomores ....
The current pandemic has not really affected the standardized testing schedule for sophomores (other than the possibility of taking tests online). The recommendations for 10th graders mostly depend on the math classes they've completed, their maturity, and the strength of their foundation skills.
Take a Practice SAT or ACT Test!
Taking practice tests at the end of sophomore year can help students decide between the SAT and ACT format, and build an optimal testing plan with sensible target test dates.
Take the SAT or ACT at the end of this summer or early fall!
Sophomore who have:
- completed Algebra 2 by the end of this school year, and
- have strong skills in general in reading, writing, and math
should consider taking the first SAT/ACT in August or September, with several more retest options available in 2020. The benefits of this more accelerated testing schedule include:
- making good use of this summer (for many the freest time of the year) for test preparation
- completing the testing process in 2020. Many rising juniors prefer to be done with testing by December, and not have to wait to take the next test next spring. They would rather spend time focusing on sports, AP classes/ tests and college visits in the winter and spring.
Take the SAT or ACT next spring!
Sophomores who will take Algebra 2 next school year (as juniors) should plan to test in winter/spring 2021 to build in time to learn the new concepts. The SAT will be administered in March, May, and June; the ACT in February, April, and June. The best time to prepare for these test dates is in the fall and winter.
PREP for SAT/ACT ONLINE at SLC
Somerset Learning Center's staff of certified and experienced teachers can prepare teens for the SAT or ACT! We assess each student's needs and goals, and design a personal program to enhance skills and teach effective strategies. Most students increase their scores by over 100 points on each SAT section or 4 points total on the ACT! Your teen will be well prepared and confident at test time!
Our test preparation programs are currently offered live one-to-one online. By using a collaborative whiteboard we are able to write and communicate in real time (video, audio, document sharing) to deliver an individual academic program to each student that is as close to in-person as possible!
Contact SLC Director, Lana Marshak, to map out a personal plan and optimal time line for your teen!
Learn more about SAT and ACT preparation at SLC.