Admissions

Consider These Silver Linings as Coronavirus Impacts Testing, Admissions

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These are interesting times. That sentence may qualify as understatement of the year, maybe even decade. I'm hoping that we haven't entered the "new normal." There's nothing normal about this.

High school and college students have reached peak un-normal. Aside from being sequestered at home and attempting to attend classes online, they're trying to understand the effect of all this dislocation on their standardized testing, as it applies to undergraduate and graduate admissions.


To satisfy my curiosity about what changes and adaptations are taking place in the world of standardized testing, I did searches for "College Board Coronavirus" and "College Board graduate testing Coronavirus" and found three interesting articles that may help you understand where things are today. The articles, with summaries, are as follows:

1. College Board Says It is Investing in Development of New 'at-Home Testing' Options for AP Exams

The College Board announced Friday it is investing in the development of new 'at-home testing' options for AP exams.

"Through our members across the country, we understand the new time constraints on everyone in the education community. These solutions are meant to be as simple and lightweight as possible for both students and teachers — without creating additional burdens for school leaders during this time.

Traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place.

Some students may want to take the exam sooner rather than later, while the content is still fresh. Other students may want more time to practice. For each AP subject, there will be 2 different testing dates.

The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3. We'll also unlock any relevant free-response questions in AP Classroom for digital use so students can access all practice questions of the type that will appear on the exam …"

The AP Program will "invest heavily" over the next month in the following ways:

- For the 2019–20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online exam at home. Educator-led development committees are currently selecting the exam questions that will be administered ...

- Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies.

- Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.

- College Board recognizes that the digital divide could prevent some low-income and rural students from participating. Working with partners, the organization said it will invest so that these students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam. If students need mobile tools or connectivity, you can reach out to College Board directly to let them know

2. The May SAT Exam Has Been Canceled Due to Coronavirus Concerns by the College Board

The SAT is canceled -- for now.

The College Board, the organization behind the college placement exam, announced on Monday that it would no longer administer the test in May amid coronavirus concerns.

March makeup exams are being canceled as well, and a new date has not yet been set for additional SAT testing opportunities.

"The College Board will remain focused on student safety and ensuring all students have the tools they need to work, and opportunities to receive the credit they have earned, during this challenging time." …

… Students who registered for the May SAT date will receive refunds, the College Board said.

"We will provide additional SAT testing opportunities as soon as feasible in place of canceled administrations."

The June 6 SAT exam has not yet been canceled, but the College Board said it will continue to assess its status, taking into consideration the health and safety of students and educators …

… The ACT, which also administers college placement exams in the US, announced similar measures regarding its April test.

"The safety of students and test center staff is ACT's top priority," the ACT said in a statement. "ACT has rescheduled its April 4 national test date to June 13 across the U.S. in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus."

3. Coronavirus Leads to Cancellations of Testing Dates

… ACT has rescheduled the April 4 exam, moving it to June 13 "in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)." In the next few days, everyone who registered for the exam will receive information about the new date.

In addition, ACT has rescheduled the April 3 and 4 international ACT test dates to June 12 and 13.

The College Board gave the SAT March 14, although many test sites were closed.

The Graduate Record Examinations are being largely rescheduled, and information is available here.

The Law School Admission Council has canceled the Law School Admission Test that was to be given this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Cancelling the March test is a difficult step, but we believe it is the most responsible course of action to protect test takers, test center personnel, and the broader community," said a statement from the admission council. All March LSAT registrants in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been automatically registered for the April 25 test.

The Association of American Medical Colleges announced that the March 27 and April 4 administrations of the Medical College Admission Test have been canceled.

And the Graduate Management Admission Council has canceled most dates coming up soon for the Graduate Management Admission Test.

Consider These Silver Linings

Can there possibly be a so-called silver lining to all this disruption? Apparently there can be, according to this Forbes article: Coronavirus Silver Lining: Easier To Get Into Many Top Colleges. Summarizing the main point:

"Covid-19 has exacerbated the desperation of some institutions to enroll their class," says Robert Massa, former chief enrollment officer for Drew University, Dickinson College and Johns Hopkins, and now a consultant. Massa expects the gloves to come off this summer as schools compete for promising applicants, and even solicit transfers from the rolls of promising students they previously rejected early decision.

"When your president comes to you and says, you know, we need 30 more students, you've got to go get them from somewhere." says Massa. "So they'll fish in somebody else's pond to get their students."

Ironically higher education's nightmare could turn out to be a dream scenario for the Class of 2024 and their parents who now have more leverage than ever, especially if the student is applying outside of the top 50 ranked colleges.

My advice about all this: Stay calm, be safe, remain alert and take advantage of change. There are better days ahead!

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