SAT/ACT Availability Crunch This Fall?

Many current juniors will eye dates in the fall of 2020 as opportunities to take the SAT or ACT either for the first time or to improve upon scores achieved in previous administrations. This is certainly going to be the case here in North Carolina, where our state flagship institutions continue to require submission of test scores with the application.

Be mindful that while opportunities to register for either exam may seem more plentiful than in previous years, this is likely not going to be the case. The College Board announced this spring that the SAT would be offered once per month, August through December. The ACT is being offered in July, September, October, and December. While this suggests that ample opportunities exist for students to sit for either exam, keep in mind that schools (which serve as test centers) are likely going to be forced to reduce capacity to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. I read a report on a relatively large testing center in Connecticut that is reducing its capacity by 66%! The College Board states here that they are asking for additional test center capacity from high schools, colleges, and communities, however they don’t answer to local public health authorities.

The College Board opens registration for the August through October SAT exams tomorrow. The ACT opens registration for its fall exams this July. My guess is that all available seats at many test centers will be accounted for quickly and that long road trips to schools with spots will become more common this fall unless additional test centers are added.

A caveat to all of this could be the anticipated introduction of online SAT and ACT testing later this fall. I think expectations need to be tempered here for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that colleges and universities have yet to announce whether they will accept online test results from Fall 2021 applicants. Stay tuned.

All of this is to say it is to your benefit to be on top of registration dates and to sign up early whenever possible. The COVID pandemic will present both unique challenges and interesting opportunities for students applying to college this fall. Procuring a seat at a test center may prove to be the former.

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