Coronavirus Leads to Testing site closures:
100s of test centers were closed for the March 14 SAT last weekend.
Many of them are international sites, as entire countries have cancelled the exam
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- China (including Hong Kong and Macau)
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- Palestine, State of
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
But many are also domestic test centers, whether in California, New York, or many places in between.
ACT April 4th test centers have followed suit. As hundreds of schools close across the country, many of them will also shut their doors to standardized testing. This is not really the doing of the CB itself as far as I can tell, but a refusal of testing centers to operate in the conditions or a response to local laws.
In this blog, I’ll talk about what happens next if your test was cancelled, what might happen if you’re planning on taking the ACT in April, and what could happen if you’re planning to try to take the tests in May, June, or beyond given the current pandemic.
Now, as of mid-week last week, the CB at first had re-routed the majority of US students to alternate test centers, but as last minute cancellations racked up, some of the centers were just permanently cancelled at this point with no alternative in sight. Make up date for most cancelled sites is slated for March 28th, but I’m skeptical.
The cancellations are not the benevolent concern of the CB for your health and safety, but rather, have been driven by school closures.
Schools around the nation are being cancelled to avoid the spread of COVID 19
The CDC is currently recommending that schools be closed for a minimum of 8 weeks to stem spread of the virus.
That likely means that any closed schools won’t be hosting the ACT or the SAT anytime soon. True, many of these schools have closed for “two weeks” for the moment. But as more test kits enter the US market and we see the true impact of the virus, that calendar is likely to change.
What happens after this point, we’re not really sure. But here’s where it stands:
- The College Board for most students whose tests were cancelled is working to reschedule— whether at the same or a different center. Some rescheduled tests have already been put on the calendar for March 28th, a two week delay. In my estimation, these dates may not stick at many centers.
- The College Board could simply push test takers to a May or June exam date.
- Tests could be cancelled entirely because of government regulations.
- CB could reschedule an entire exam date, or cancel one.
Now all of this only covers how the CB will handle the situation, but there’s also a question of how colleges will.
Most US colleges and universities have made clear that they won’t “punish” you for things outside your control — but that’s not to say that you might not still be expected to take the SAT or ACT by a certain date or that the options available to you won’t be inconvenient or difficult given your personal desire to come prepared to test day. Most of the time in the past when universities have faced applicants enduring disasters (for example those impacted by a hurricane or displacement) they haven’t waived requirements but they have extended deadlines or allowed students to take later seatings of the exams. We’re not 100% sure in this case as we’re rolling into unprecedented territory, and the issue is more likely to impact far more applicants than a local disaster would.
If the flu epidemic of 1918 is any indication, we know some cities “shut down” schools for a little over a month, while others shut them down for 4.5. Still other campuses remained open. What we’re not sure of is whether College Board and ACT will continue to just cancel tests based on test center policies and local laws, or whether they will choose to move or cancel entire national US test dates, as they have in many countries around the world.
There’s a much bigger looming question we’re all facing, which is how this outbreak is going to affect all our lives on a much broader scale— school closures, university distance learning and closures, admissions policies.
What’s more is that COVID 19 is likely to shift the entire admissions process and calendar for Juniors— so if that’s you, tune in next week, and I’m going to be talking about how the entire admissions process may be affected, and compiling the responses so far from universities that have spoken out about how things will work.