SAT, ACT canceled, colleges move to test-optional

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons | With the possibility that many schools are test-optional for the class of 2021, many students may have the option to bypass the stressful testing process.

By George Anton ’21


Many standardized tests have been canceled this Spring with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, many colleges are changing their application requirements to test-optional.

Several well-known schools that have changed their testing policies include Cornell University, Claremont McKenna College and Northeastern University.

When Texas Christian University announced they would be test-optional for the class of 2021 on Apr. 7, the school said “The ACT and SAT testing dates are shifting and it has heightened the already high stress these students are facing. TCU wants to do what we can to reduce some of the anxiety.”

Many of the testing locations for the March SAT were shut down and the College Board has postponed the next test date to Sept. 26.

If the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is a possibility that some members of the class of 2021 will not have the opportunity to take a test in the fall, making it likely that more schools will switch to test-optional.

William Hays ’21 was scheduled to take the March SAT and the April ACT until they were both canceled. He is hoping to apply to schools such as the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University, both of whom currently require a test score to apply.

“Having a high test score would really help to get into these schools,” Hays said. He said that if the pandemic continues, he hopes more schools change their application requirements.

“Hopefully, most schools move to test-optional so it won’t be an end all be all,” Hays said. “Obviously I still really want to take a standardized test if I can.”

For public in-state schools such as Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, it is not a requirement that a student shares a test score when they apply. Test scores are used, however, to receive any merit-aid scholarships.

That means that a senior student does not need to submit a test score until their second semester if they wish.

“[In-state schools] will let you send scores in, all the way up to May 1,” said College Counselor Mrs. Megan Erdely. “There is a whole calendar year of opportunity to test. We could see seniors who are going to ASU potentially testing in March for scholarships which generally, we do not see.”

Mrs. Erdely was in communication with ASU and said that the school is keeping its current policy because it is too early to tell if all standardized tests will be canceled.

She also mentioned that each school is approaching the process differently. Before COVID-19, standardized tests were weighted differently at all schools.

The same will be the case now for schools not requiring tests. Being test-optional means something different for each college.

Mrs. Erdely advises that students go to a school’s website to see their specific policies and if they have made any changes. She also notes that if students do not have a test score to apply with, there are many other aspects of the application they should focus on.

“The door isn’t shut because a lot of colleges look at you holistically,” said Mrs. Erdely. Grades and recommendations may play a greater role in acceptance.