Coronavirus: SAT tests cancelled, ACT exams postponed over Covid-19 fears

Associated Press

The groups that administer the Scholastic Aptitude Test and ACT exam have announced these measures in response to the outbreak

Associated Press |

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College admissions tests dates for this spring are being postponed or rescheduled because of concerns about the novel coronavirus Covid-19, while secondary schools seniors in the US may be allowed to take Advanced Placement (AP) exams to earn college credit from home.

The groups that give both the ACT and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) tests announced Monday that they’re putting off the next nationwide examinations. The April 4 ACT test has been rescheduled for June 13 while the May 2 SAT has been cancelled.

The spring tests are typically useful for high school juniors planning to apply to colleges the next fall. No testing now could mean some students can’t take tests multiple times to try to get higher scores.

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The last round of SATs was administered last Saturday, but a number of sites that were scheduled to host the exam cancelled plans, some leaving students in the lurch at the last minute.

The College Board said it’s also cancelling the March 28 makeup date for those who missed Saturday’s tests. The College Board couldn’t immediately say on Monday how many students took the SAT Saturday or how many sites were shuttered, said spokeswoman Jaslee Carayol.

Iowa-based ACT said all students registered for April 4 will be offered the chance to reschedule for June 13 or another future test date. 

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The New York-based College Board, which is responsible for the SAT said everyone registered for the May 2 SAT would receive refunds. The College Board said it would seek to provide additional testing opportunities, and said that the June 6 exam date remains scheduled, at least for now.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. 

The situation could lead more schools to scrap requirements that students take the tests. Although application deadlines have already passed for most schools, a few with rolling admissions or who are struggling to fill their freshman class are already waiving test requirements for current seniors.

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The College Board said it’s working with local schools who give the SAT and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), a standardised test for sophomores and juniors, on school days. Many schools also give the ACT during regular class time, instead of on Saturday, when the exams have traditionally been given.

The College Board also administers Advanced Placement exams to high school students seeking to earn college credit. The board said it’s trying to develop “streamlined AP Exam options“ that would allow student to test from home. The board promised an update on its plans by Friday.

Smith said the College Board faces particular difficulty because it gives all its tests on paper, while the ACT has developed some electronic exams. The International Baccalaureate organisation, which also gives exams aimed at certifying advanced high school proficiency, has said it’s not delaying its May exams.