National

SAT and ACT college tests canceled because of virus fears

Students leave Lewis and Clark High School at the end of classes March 13, 2020, in Spokane, Wash. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review via AP)

(AP) — Spring dates for college admissions tests are being rescheduled or postponed amid concerns about the coronavirus, while high school seniors may be allowed to take Advanced Placement exams to earn college credit from home.

The groups that give both the ACT and SAT tests announced Monday that they’re putting off the next nationwide examinations. The April 4 ACT test has been rescheduled for June 13 while the May 2 SAT has been canceled.

The spring tests are typically prime dates for high school juniors planning to apply to colleges the next fall. No testing now could mean some students can’t take tests multiple times to try to get higher scores.

“The class of 2021 will actually be the most affected class,” said Sara Harberson, a former admissions dean who counsels high school students on college admission. Harberson, based in Philadelphia, said many high school juniors take the tests for the first time during this season. “All of these students are stressed about how this impacts their college decision.”

The SAT was administered last Saturday, but a number of sites that were scheduled to host the exam canceled plans, some leaving students in the lurch at the last minute. The College Board said it’s also canceling the March 28 makeup date for those who missed Saturday’s tests. The College Board couldn’t immediately say on Monday how many students took the SAT Saturday or how many sites were shuttered, said spokeswoman Jaslee Carayol.

Iowa-based ACT said all students registered for April 4 will be offered the chance to reschedule for June 13 or another future test date. The New York-based College Board said everyone registered for the May 2 SAT would receive refunds. The College Board said it would seek to provide additional testing opportunities, and said that the June 6 exam date remains scheduled, at least for now.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

The situation could lead more schools to scrap requirements that students take the tests. Although application deadlines have already passed for most schools, a few with rolling admissions or who are struggling to fill their freshman class are already waiving test requirements for current seniors.

Colleges are also having to consider changing dates for seniors to accept offers of admission or make deposits said Joyce Smith, the CEO for the National Association of College Admission Counseling. Plus there are concerns over high schools being able to issue final transcripts if they don’t reopen this spring.

“The situation is changing by the hour, practically,” she said.

The association itself has canceled 38 college admission fairs set for this spring.

The College Board said it’s working with local schools who give the SAT and PSAT on school days. Many schools also give the ACT during regular class time, instead of on Saturday, when the exams have traditionally been given.

The College Board also administers Advanced Placement exams to high school students seeking to earn college credit. The board said it’s trying to develop “streamlined AP Exam options” that would allow student to test from home. The board promised an update on its plans by Friday.

Smith said the College Board faces particular difficulty because it gives all its tests on paper, while the ACT has developed some electronic exams.

The International Baccalaureate organization, which also gives exams aimed at certifying advanced high school proficiency, has said it’s not delaying its May exams.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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