CCPrep’s Guidance on 2020 SAT/ACT Testing for the Class of 2021
The emergence of COVID-19 has had profound impacts on the routine operations of almost every aspect of American life. The SAT & ACT Exams are no exception. In fact, we continue to receive regular updates from the College Board, ACT, & college admissions offices about changes to the SAT/ACT exam dates schedule & how those tests will factor into the admissions process for students in the Class of 2021.
This FAQ guide is our effort to provide as much clarity & guidance to the students & families in the CCPrep community as possible, so that you can be empowered with the information that you need to make the right decision for your students.
FAQ #1: I heard that colleges are no longer requiring the SAT/ACT for students in the Class of 2021. Does that mean my student does not need to worry about their SAT/ACT score?
It’s important to know that colleges themselves decide what they will require for admission, and admissions requirements for students in the Class of 2021 will vary widely by college. Also, some colleges may use test scores for scholarships and/or placement. Here’s a summary of the CSUs, UCs, & private colleges are saying about the SAT/ACT for Class of 2021 students:
California State Universities (CSUs): The CSUs have announced that they will not be using the SAT/ACT at all in their admissions decisions for the Class of 2021. So if your student is applying only to CSUs, your student does not need an SAT/ACT score.
University of California System (UCs): The UCs have announced that SAT/ACT scores are not required for the Class of 2021. However, the UCs will still look at the SAT/ACT scores of students who are able to submit them with their applications. The UC has advised us that SAT/ACT scores will be “value added.” This means a strong SAT/ACT score will still bolster a student’s application. Based on our past experience, admission to selective (UC) campuses requires that applicants avail themselves of every opportunity to improve their overall competitiveness. If your student is able to take the SAT/ACT this fall, we highly recommend continuing to prep for the best possible SAT/ACT score to maximize your student’s chances of admission at the UC schools.
Private Colleges & Out-of-State Colleges: While the fact that some private & out of state colleges have made the SAT/ACT “optional” has made big headlines over the past month, not all of them have made that decision. Addtionally, like the UC system, many colleges may still use test results to add value to an application. This means students applying to private or out-of-state colleges should still ensure that they take the SAT and/or ACT exams.
Summary: Unless you know your student is only applying to colleges that will not consider the SAT/ACT at all in 2021 (for example, only applying to CSUs), it’s best to have your student continue to prep for the SAT and/or ACT exams this summer/fall in order to help them craft their strongest possible applications. We harbor anxiety that students who choose to forgo the SAT/ACT because some colleges have gone “test optional” will find it tough to be awarded admittance to their top choice universities.
FAQ #2: When are the next scheduled ACT exams?
As of this moment, the ACT has announced that it will be administering exams on the following dates:
June 13th, 2020 or June 20th, 2020* (if held)
July 18th, 2020 or July 25th, 2020* (if held)
September 12th, 2020
October 24th, 2020
*While the normal ACT dates are June 13th and July 18th, the ACT has offered individual testing sites the option to request moving to the makeup dates (June 20th & July 25th, respectively). If there are ACTs in June & July, students would only be able to take it on one Saturday each month depending on their testing location’s schedule.
However, it’s ultimately not the ACTs decision whether the tests will be offering here in Orange County on the selected summer dates (June/July): the decision ultimately resides with our local school districts & school leaders, who must decide if they are willing to open up their campuses for these exams. In addition, the availability for ACT testing spots was already extremely limited in CA for the July ACT. So in summary: it’s hard to predict whether the June/July test dates will still be held. Our current assumption is that the June tests won’t be offering in OC, and the July tests, if held, will have extremely limited availability.
So if you’re interested in prepping for the ACT in June/July, we absolutely encourage you to do so, but you’ll need to stay flexible to see if the test centers open and, if they are, what the number of seats available will be. Registration is open now for the ACT in either June or July at actstudent.org. Registration for the Fall tests (September+) is not yet open, but we expect it begin mid-summer.
If you’re looking to have a “safer” plan, then we might recommend waiting to prep for the September and/or October exams, which right now have the highest likelihood of continuing as scheduled.
The ACT has also announced that they will offer a “remote proctoring option for the ACT test in late fall/early winter 2020, allowing students to take the test at their home on a computer.” So, at absolute minimum, there will be an online, at-home ACT the students can take this late fall/early winter.
FAQ #3: When are the next scheduled SAT exams?
The SAT has canceled its June exam, which leaves the next SAT test dates as follows:
August 29th, 2020
September 26th, 2020
October 3rd, 2020
November 7th, 2020
We are optimistic that these exams will continue as scheduled in-person. Registration for these fall exam dates begins in May, with priority given to students in the Class of 2021 who have not yet taken an SAT exam.
The SAT has announced that, if schools are not open for SAT testing come the fall, they will be administering the SAT in an online, at-home format that students can take on their computers. So no matter what happens, students should be able to take the SAT either in-person or online this fall.
FAQ #4: My student hasn’t even started SAT/ACT Prep, what should we do?
For students who haven’t begun any SAT/ACT prep, we recommend taking a CCPrep SAT/ACT Combo Course this summer that prepares students for the August 29th SAT & September 12th ACT exams.
We recommend prepping for both the SAT and ACT so that students can find the test where they score highest. We think waiting until August/September would be prudent, as these test dates are the most likely to occur without interruption.
FAQ #5: My student has done SAT and/or ACT Prep and wants to retake the ACT. What should we do?
Unfortunately, we find it unlikely that many local schools will reopen for the June ACT dates. So the next option after that would be the July test dates or the September test date.
If your student is looking to retake the ACT, there are two paths:
1: Prep for the July test dates, but stay flexible and recognize that there might not be many available seats for the July tests in Southern California. If you prep for July and are unable to take the official exam, you can always just continue to study until September.
2. Prep for the September test date directly. Even if the September test is canceled, you will still have the at-home, computer-based ACT version.
FAQ #6: My student has done SAT and/or ACT Prep and wants to retake the SAT. What should we do?
The next SAT date is August 29th, 2020. We would advise preparing for that exam. If schools are not hosting an in-person SAT on that date, there will be online, at-home computer SATs in the fall.
FAQ #7: My student needs to take SAT/ACT Subject Tests, when should we take those?
The SAT/ACT Subject Tests are administered on the same dates as the regular SAT: August 29th, October 3rd, November 7th.
Our advice is to prep for the August 29th subject tests (unless you’ll be taking the regular SAT on August 29th, in which case you’ll want to plan for subject tests on October 3rd and November 7th). Please note that a student cannot take the regular SAT and SAT subject tests on the same date.