How Covid-19 Has Already Affected Testing and College Admissions
As Covid-19 spreads throughout the country and the world, standardized tests, school districts, and colleges have adapted. Here are the recent changes and what you should do for college admissions planning:
Test Cancellations and Updates
April ACT = shifted to June
IB tests (May) = cancelled
May SAT = cancelled
AP tests (May) = modified to 45-minute free-response tests (still not fully clear on what they are doing ... College Board said it will update by 4/3)
June SAT/ACT = pending, still open for now
At this point, the only certainty is that College Board plans to administer AP tests in an online format. It should be updating the details on 45-minute free-response tests today. CB has stated that colleges will honor these scores, even though the format is vastly different to that of the standard AP tests.
It still remains unclear how College Board plans to convert these scores or provide correspondence between the new format and standard format. Just like many things during this pandemic, how colleges will weigh these scores and accept them as credit remains to be determined. It does seem that colleges will be flexible and understanding.
College Admissions Changes
Some school districts have already made the decision to only count the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year as pass/fail/incomplete. For example, Leander ISD in Austin has changed the class rank and grading in this manner:
class rank will be based on the semester average after the end of the third grading period (first semester) for current high school seniors;
all student grades for the spring or second semester of the 2019–20 school year will be pass or incomplete, and
GPA will be calculated based on the semester average after the third grading period in the 2019–20 school year for all LISD high schools.
Also, some colleges are delaying the May 1 college choice/deposit day by a month or more.
And other colleges are considering shifting their testing requirements to optional for the next college admissions cycle (Class of 2021 high schoolers) or forever:
MIT is no longer accepting SAT Subject Scores -- even if you’ve taken these exams already
University of California system is suspending the requirement for SAT or ACT scores for this upcoming admission cycle
What You Should Do
Obviously grades and class rank are an important part of college admissions, so modifications to grading like we see at Leander ISD will affect how admissions officers review your college applications. Fortunately, covid-19 affects most students (and colleges themselves), so admissions officers should be understanding of disruptions in grades and class rank.
Even though you probably will not be graded for the spring semester, you should still take your online coursework seriously. For one, the summer slide is only going to be longer this year, so imagine what happens with only a couple months off from school -- except now this is doubled. You need to keep your mind sharp for when (presumably) the school year begins anew and you’re back to regular grading. Plus, all the work you do during April, May, and June can be grounds for independent projects that will help your college admissions chances.
Admissions officers can use as much information as possible to distinguish you from other applicants. Also, University of California has already committed to accepting 3, 4, and 5 scores as it would have in the past.
So, if you are undecided on whether to take the new AP tests, you should take them (and do well)!
Though it hasn’t been stated yet, there is a reasonable chance that June SAT/ACT dates will be cancelled, just as the April and May dates have been. On top of that, colleges are getting lax with requiring scores as part of their applications.
You should plan on studying over the summer for the August SAT and September ACT, and even if some colleges aren’t requiring scores (and may not even accept them), this practice won’t be universal, so you should plan on submitting and distinguishing yourself through these tests.
As the traditional measures such as grades, GPA, class rank, and standardized tests become altered during the covid-19 pandemic, other means of weighing an applicant’s suitability for college will grow in importance. In other words, essays, resumes, and other components of college applications are going to be even more useful -- so you need to make sure you take these parts seriously!
As much of the world is in quarantine mode, it is important to think outside of the box when it comes to getting internships, conducting research, and generally giving yourself experiences that improve your academic background and demonstrate that you are committed to whichever major/school/program you are applying to.
Now is not the time to sit around the house, even though you most likely are forced to shelter-in-place. There are plenty of virtual resources and tools for you to connect and make the most of staying indoors. Be proactive and creative when it comes to substituting what would otherwise be normal summer and after-school extracurriculars and experiences.
B2A plans to remain open during the covid-19 pandemic, and we are pleased to help our students through our temporary online classes, tutoring, and consultations. We have the Gateway program for rising seniors, helping them get into their dream colleges, and our summer test-prep and GPA-management programs, as well as our current spring semester classes and tutoring. Our tutors, teachers, and managers can help you as the world continues to adapt to this unprecedented situation!