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Students Dealing With Changes To SAT, ACT Exams Caused By Pandemic

(CBSDFW.COM) - College applicants are scrambling to reschedule their ACT or SAT exams after several testing dates were cancelled due to COVID-19.

After months of studying, Davis Burk was ready to take the SAT in March. But the coronavirus had other plans.

"It was so close, I was about to take the test," said Burk, a high school junior. "So it's kinda unclear when we'll take it later. That's the scary part."

Students nationwide must now take their exams at a later date. Spring is a popular season for high school juniors to take their standardized tests, as the timing allows applicants more opportunities to retake the exams before applying to college.

The next ACT is set for July 18. Select locations were able to administer the exam in June.

Meanwhile, the College Board will begin offering the SAT again August 29, followed by a test every month through June 2021.

But with the pandemic in full swing, the question is whether future exams will also be canceled.

"Unfortunately, they may not know until the last day before the test is scheduled unless they log onto their account," said Ibrahim Firat, an education consultant with Firat Education.

Firat said students should consistently check their ACT and/or College Board accounts online daily for any updates.

Firat said students should shift focus from test scores to other admission factors such as GPA, extracurricular activities or essays.

In fact, many schools, including TCU, are transitioning to "test optional," which means they will waive standardized testing requirements for the class of 2021.

TCU Dean of Admission Heath Einstein said the university could scrap test scores altogether depending on how the year progresses.

"We need to redefine what 'quality' means," Einstein said. "I don't think you can look at the scores of a student they earned on one Saturday junior or senior year and use that to determine quality."

Einstein said students who do take either test can still submit their scores.

In general, many universities determine merit scholarship awards based, in part, on test scores.

Burk said he has no idea when he will take the SAT but for now, he will spend the summer studying.

"I always want to be ready whenever it does happen," Burk said.

The College Board is asking colleges to extend their score deadlines and give equal consideration to students who cannot take the SAT.

"We know demand is very high and the registration process for students and families under this kind of pressure is extremely stressful," said College Board CEO David Coleman. "There are more important things than tests right now. In making these difficult decisions we focused on reducing the anxiety that students and families are experiencing this year."

While the College Board has paused its plans for an at-home testing option, the ACT will start offering remote testing dates in the fall.

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