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College Board Asks Colleges to Show Flexibility in Admissions This Year to Reduce Stress for Students, Citing Challenges in Providing Universal Access to the SAT During the Coronavirus Pandemic

College Board will delay at-home SAT

New York, N.Y.—Millions of students who were unable to take the SAT this spring are seeking registrations to take the test in the fall as part of the 2021 admissions season. Today the College Board released information on availability for fall administrations, and asked colleges to extend deadlines for receiving test scores and to equally consider students for admission who are unable to take the test due to covid-19.

The College Board will pause on offering an at-home SAT this year because taking it would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all. The College Board will continue to develop remote proctoring capabilities to make at-home SAT possible in the future. It will also continue to deliver the SAT online in some schools but will not introduce the stress that could result from extended at-home testing in an already disrupted admissions season.

The College Board continues to do all it can to expand availability of the SAT at in-person test centers. The organization is providing additional SAT administrations every month, beginning in August. Today the College Board also announced there will be a test date in January 2021 if there is demand for it. This year, many centers will have fewer seats because of social distancing guidelines and may encounter unexpected closures. While the College Board cannot directly control capacity and test center availability, the organization is working with local high schools, colleges, and other sites to increase seating capacity in areas where August and September registration are filling up.

"We know demand is very high and the registration process for students and families under this kind of pressure is extremely stressful," said College Board CEO David Coleman. "There are more important things than tests right now. In making these difficult decisions we focused on reducing the anxiety that students and families are experiencing this year. We therefore are asking our member colleges to be flexible toward students who can’t submit scores, who submit them later, or who did not have a chance to test more than once."

SAT registration opened on May 28 for students who were most in need of a testing opportunity (students in the high school classes of 2020 or 2021 who don’t yet have an SAT score). Registration opens to all students this week. Additionally, state and large district SAT School Day partners plan to offer the SAT to students, for free, in the fall to replace canceled administrations in the spring.

In many states and districts, there are ample seats available for students who have not yet registered. However, there is higher demand for the August administration and, importantly, in certain areas, August and September already are full or nearing capacity.

  • Overall, in August, less than one-quarter of capacity is filled; in September less than 10% of capacity is filled; in October about 5% of capacity is filled.
  • Certain states have lower capacity, for August in particular, including Massachusetts (at 75% capacity), Rhode Island (60% capacity); Washington State (at 59% capacity), and New Jersey (at 58% capacity).

It is the unfortunate reality that students in the densely populated areas hardest hit by covid-19—such as Boston, Denver, and New York City—will face the greatest challenge in finding open seats because of scarce test centers.

Therefore, the College Board is asking member colleges to provide flexibility to students in three ways:

  • Accepting scores as late as possible in their process, especially by extending score deadlines for early action and early decision to take some pressure off and give students more time to test and send their scores.
  • Equally considering students for admission who are unable to take the exam due to covid-19 as those who submitted scores. (The College Board will keep colleges up to date on testing availability).
  • Recognizing that students who do submit scores may not have been able to take the test more than once. (e.g., taking into account that students who tested as high school juniors but who could not as seniors would have likely achieved score gains).

And it's more important than ever to pay close attention to the context in which all students live and learn as they make admissions decisions.

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College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success—including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement® Program. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools. For further information, visit collegeboard.org.

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