Testing in the Time of Corona

Many seniors have not been able to complete the college admissions tests they hoped to do. Test dates in the spring had wholesale cancellations. Fall seats are scarce, because many sites are closed and others have lower capacity due to distancing requirements. Some families reported that test sites within 75 miles were full in the first few hours after fall registration opened.

Colleges are reconsidering whether test scores should be an admissions requirement in this environment. This is an ongoing process.  Some colleges may have hoped that testing would be available this fall, despite the spring cancellations. 

On September 1, a California judge ruled that allowing test optional admissions discriminated against students with disabilities, who were unable to take tests with approved accommodations because of the impact of coronavirus on testing sites.  The judge ruled that SAT and ACT scores could NOT be considered as part of University of California admissions, even if used as part of a test optional review.  It’s not clear if the UC system will contest this ruling.  It had previously been announced that UC would take the next several years to phase out the SAT and ACT while working to develop their own admissions exam.

Colleges that are part of a wider state system may have to wait for decisions to be made by the state governing body.  For example, the University System of Georgia just announced that applications for Fall 2021 would be test optional, but that this is a temporary waiver of the requirement.  This affects University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, as well as other public Georgia colleges and universities.

Test optional for admissions might not change the requirements for scholarships, which might be controlled by state legislatures or the organization that funds the scholarship.  For example, at the moment, the Zell Miller Scholarship – highest level of the Hope Scholarship in Georgia, still requires test scores for qualification. The commission that manages the scholarship can change the deadline for test scores, but cannot waive the requirement entirely, because that is under the authority of the Georgia legislature.

Some students still need to double check testing requirements.  Some colleges that are test optional for general admissions purposes are still asking for test scores for programs like engineering and nursing.  They may also still list test scores as a requirement for homeschool students.  For example, last week University of Hawaii Mānoa was still listing a requirement for homeschool students to submit one of the following: SAT Subject Test scores or ACT scores or a GED. 

Students applying for Fall 2021 need to keep an eye on the policies at the schools they are interested in.  They should determine of the college is test optional or test blind and also consider program and scholarship requirements.  If they do have test scores, they should consider if those scores would be a positive factor in the context of the rest of their application. If you’d like help with this process, contact me at lisa@admissiondecrypted.com.

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