Junior year is the year of standardized testing, of SATs and ACTs, studying to improve our GPA and connect with our teachers for recommendation letters. However, juniors around the country have lost half their year, with little idea of what this means for the upcoming college admissions process in the fall.
Standardized testing is one of the more stressful aspects of being a junior, in my opinion. The pressure to get the highest score you possibly can is high enough without the added unexpectedness of the coronavirus pandemic. However, although there is uncertainty surrounding standardized testing such as the SAT and ACT, you can still continue to study and prepare!
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Hopefully the information below will help you understand what is happening and what you can do about it!
About SAT/ACT Testing Dates:
- The June SAT and SAT Subject Tests have been cancelled.
- The College Board has added a new testing date for September 26, as well as keeping their original test dates in August, October, November, and December and will administer these tests if it’s safe for the public health.
- Students who were registered for the June SAT or are Class of 2021 get early access to registration for testing dates. Registration becomes available sometime in May so keep an eye out!
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- On the off chance that schools are still closed for public health reasons in the fall, the College Board may provide online SATs similar to their online AP Exams.
- The ACT is still administering tests on June 13th and July 18th. They are also offering makeup tests a week after each of these dates (June 20th and July 25th).
- Starting in September, the ACT is implementing a new policy where students can take only one section of the test!
What Does All This Mean?
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The College Board and the ACT organization understand that this is an unprecedented time, and they have both put into effect new testing dates and policies that are there to help students. The SAT is providing multiple test dates in the fall, most of which can be taken before the deadline for college applications
If you are planning to apply Early Decision or Early Action, most colleges require your application to be sent in by November 1st or November 15th. This means you can still take the August, September, and potentially the October SAT with time to spare.
For those who are applying regular decision, the deadlines aren’t until sometime in January, allowing you the opportunity to take any of the fall SAT testing dates.
Similarly, the ACT still offers many opportunities to take the test if it is your first time or improve your score. The ACT will have two test dates this summer, in June and July, but these are likely still subject to change due to COVID-19. The ACT also offers tests in September, October, and December, but these dates are a little less flexible in regard to getting your score back for college applications. I would recommend taking the September ACT if you are applying Early Decision/Early Action since the October one might be cutting it a little close.
What About SAT Subject Tests?
The good news is that a lot of colleges don’t require or even recommend SAT Subject Tests! Whether you have these tests on your application is completely up to you and the schools on your list! However, if you are planning to apply to colleges that require these, Subject Tests will still be administered on August 29, October 3, November 7, and December 5 of this year! Make sure you check on Collegeboard.org
which subjects are offered on which test date as not all are offered at each one.
The Good News
In response to the pandemic, many colleges and universities have done what some students have only dreamed of: they’ve dropped their SAT/ACT requirement for the incoming class of 2021. The University of California system is just one of multiple colleges across the country that have gone test-optional for class of 2021. This is good news for everyone who did not have the opportunity to take a test or achieve the score they were seeking. However, if you do have a score you are proud of, you should definitely still submit it in your applications!
How Should I Study?
That was a lot of information regarding standardized testing and college admissions, but hopefully now, you feel a little less anxious about getting your tests in. You still have the opportunity to take the SAT or ACT and submit it to your colleges.
Right now, the only thing that high school juniors can do about this situation is to use this time to study and achieve the best score you possibly can when you take the test in the fall. Since there aren’t any tests scheduled for about another month or so, you have plenty of time to study on your own terms. Make a realistic studying schedule for the next few weeks or months (depending on which test date you’re planning to register for) and do your best to stick to it!
In terms of prep resource, there are countless free tools online to help you prep, including practice tests and study guides. A few resources that used to be costly have become free in light of the pandemic. Check out my earlier article here
to see some suggestions for less-intensive studying over the summer.
I know that when I imagined my junior year, a worldwide pandemic was the furthest thing from my mind. The uncertainty surrounding our junior year and college applications is daunting, but colleges and organizations like the College Board understand this and are changing their traditional policies to fit this situation. While standardized testing is no doubt a source of anxiety for many juniors, try to use this time to study and prep rather than worry about test dates! We will all get through this challenging time together; stay safe!