ACT and SAT dates in March, April, May, and June 2020 have been canceled due to COVID-19. Some (but not all!) testing sites have also been closed in July, which means some students may be unable to take their July ACT exam, either.
If you've been caught in these cancellations, you're probably feeling pretty stressed out. When will you get to retake your test? And is there a special process for registering for the SAT after cancellation?
If these unknowns have left you feeling confused about how to handle ACT/SAT score requirements for your college applications, let us help you out. In this article, we'll walk you through what to do after your SAT or ACT test has canceled. We'll explain:
- How to transfer your registration for a canceled exam
- How to cancel your registration if you don't want to move your exam date
- If there are special accommodations for certain groups of students
- How to choose the right option for you
We'll also go over the available next steps for students who haven't taken the ACT/SAT yet but want to enroll in college in Fall 2020.
We know there can be a lot of anxiety surrounding test scores, but rest assured — you have options!
We'll walk you through your options if you've been the victim of an SAT test cancellation. Don't worry: you have quite a few choices for what to do next!
SAT Cancellations for COVID-19: What You Need to Know
At this time, SAT exam dates have been canceled for March, April, May, and June 2020. The College Board states that if it is safe from a public health standpoint, Fall 2020 testing dates will proceed as planned. The fall SAT dates that are currently scheduled are August 29, September 26, October 3, November 7, and December 5.
If your SAT test date canceled, you have two options: you can either transfer your registration for the exam to a new date, or you can cancel your registration and not reschedule your exam.
Transferring Your Registration for the SAT Exam
Let's start with what to do if you want to reschedule your canceled SAT.
For students who still want to take the SAT in the fall, the College Board will contact them during the week of May 26 with information about registering for one of the five fall testing dates we mentioned earlier. All students who wish to reschedule a canceled SAT will need to complete the registration through their online College Board account.
That means you'll need to check your College Board account for updates pretty regularly. Also make sure you're keeping an eye on whichever email address is tied to your account, too.
The good news is that you might not have to pay to transfer your registration. Students who were registered for the now-canceled June 6 SAT can transfer their registration to one of the fall SAT administrations for free. These students can also get early access to register for August, September, and October SAT dates.
Cancelling Your SAT Exam
Another option for students who've had their SAT exam canceled is to skip registering for a new exam date and instead cancel their registration entirely. Students who have taken the SAT exam before and/or can't sit for the SAT in the fall might consider this option.
If you would like to cancel your SAT registration, you can get a refund by contacting SAT Customer Service at 866-756-7346 or sending them a completed online inquiry form. Make sure you contact the College Board to cancel your SAT registration as soon as possible, though — it may take a while for them to process your request.
If you're a high school senior that hasn't taken the SAT yet, you qualify for early registration!
Special Accommodations for High School Seniors
Students in the Class of 2021 who do not have test scores yet are eligible for early registration access for August, September and October SAT dates. This is open to all high school seniors who haven't taken the SAT yet regardless of whether they were the victims of a COVID-19 test cancellation or not!
Keep in mind that this is only an option for students who haven't taken the SAT before. If you're retaking the test, or if you previously took the exam as part of SAT School Days, then you won't be eligible for priority registration.
Students who have not yet registered for an SAT administration but need to take the exam this summer or fall must register for upcoming SAT dates through their online College Board account. Students can register for fall testing dates starting in May, and the College Board will contact students with an official date for registration availability the week of May 26.
Potential Remote Testing
Because the coronavirus pandemic is an evolving situation, the College Board is considering alternative testing options, too. The College Board has announced it is developing a digital, remote SAT option in the event that in-person testing is prohibited this fall.
At this time, there are very few details available about this testing option so far. Keep checking the College Board website for updates over the next several months for information.
Unfortunately, many of 2020 ACT dates have canceled, too. If your test canceled, we've outlined your options below.
ACT Cancellations for COVID-19: What You Need to Know
Like the College Board, the ACT also canceled multiple exam dates in 2020. The ACT canceled tests in March, April, and May 2020. All ACT dates in June (including the upcoming June 13 national testing date), July, and the fall are currently scheduled to proceed as originally planned. However, the ACT has said that future exam dates are subject to change in accordance to public health guidelines!
Students who were affected by the COVID-19 ACT exam cancellations have two options available: they can reschedule their exam for a summer testing date or cancel their registration.
Rescheduling Your ACT Exam
If you would like to reschedule your canceled ACT registration for a date in June or July, you can do so through your ACT web student account free of charge. Those students who were registered for the previously canceled April 4 ACT date were already sent an email with specific instructions about how to reschedule. (Remember how we mentioned you should check your email regularly? This is why!)
During the week of May 26, the ACT will announce any test center closures and cancellations for the currently scheduled June 13 test date. Students who are currently registered for the June 13 ACT but would prefer to move their ACT registration to July may change their registration without a change fee through their ACT account.
Because the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, the ACT realizes that it might have to cancel its June testing date. (But again: as of right now, the June ACT is still happening!) Testing sites that are unable to administer the ACT on the national test date of June 13 will be rescheduled to either June 20 or July 25 if possible.
Students who are registered for the ACT at a testing location that won't be able to administer the test on June 13 but will be able to administer a test on the June 20 makeup date will receive direct communication from ACT (either via email to their web account, or a physical letter will be sent) announcing this change.
That's a lot of information, so here are the big takeaways: if your ACT exam canceled due to coronavirus, you can reschedule for a summer date free of charge. If the summer test dates end up canceled as well, the ACT will contact you with more information.
Cancelling Your ACT Exam
If you would prefer to cancel your upcoming ACT registration, you can do so by logging in to your ACT web account. As of now, the ACT notes that your basic registration fee is nonrefundable if you choose to cancel. If you paid extra because of test date changes or late registration, those additional charges may not be refundable.
If your June 13 ACT exam is canceled by ACT and you don't want to re-register for a future testing date, you can call ACT Customer Care to get a refund for your June testing fees, too.
If concerns or issues pertaining to the global pandemic influence you to cancel your ACT, contact ACT Customer Care to explain your situation and ask about options. While the ACT hasn't provided specific guidance about this, they do encourage concerned students to reach out!
Graduating without having taken the SAT or ACT is really stressful. Luckily, test optional and test flexible schools will admit students who don't have SAT or ACT test scores.
What If You Can't Take the ACT/SAT Before College Apps Are Due?
If you haven't had the chance to take the ACT or SAT yet and are worried you won't get the chance before college applications are due, fear not--there are a few options you can pursue.
The three main options right now are to apply to schools that have adopted a test optional admissions policy, apply to schools that have gone "test flexible," or see if your school will allow for deferred exam score submission.
Option 1: Apply to Test Optional Schools
The first option is to apply to universities that have gone "test optional." This means that you can apply and be considered for admission without submitting ACT/SAT scores. Put another way: standardized test scores aren't required for you to apply at a test optional school!
Many colleges and universities have decided to make ACT/SAT scores an optional component of applications for admission for Fall 2020 due to the challenges presented by COVID-19. A few schools that have gone test optional for Fall 2020 admissions include the University of Chicago, Boston University, Amherst, and the schools in the University of California system.
If your school isn't mentioned above, that doesn't mean they haven't become temporarily test optional. Schools that have gone test optional will make this waived requirement clear on their admissions website.
Also, keep in mind that there are many schools that are always test optional! You can find a complete list of test optional schools here.
Option 2: Apply to "Test Flexible" Schools
The second option is to apply to what are known as "test flexible" schools. At test flexible schools, you may submit other test scores in place of the SAT or ACT. Submitting scores from AP tests, IB tests, school administered placement exams, and/or SAT subject tests may be considered acceptable replacements for SAT/ACT scores at these test flexible schools.
The one catch with "test flexible" schools is that acceptable score ranges on replacement tests will vary between universities. That means you may find that your AP test scores qualify you for admission into one college, but they may not be high enough to get you into another! Make sure you're checking each school's website for more information about which scores you need on which exams to meet admissions requirements.
Option 3: Deferred Exam Score Submission
Some schools have decided to tackle the testing problem by allowing new students to enroll based on the agreement that they will submit ACT/SAT scores as soon as they are able. That means you'll still have to take the SAT or ACT, but you'll have extra time to schedule and take your exam!
At this point, it's not clear what will happen if you don't make a high enough score on your SAT or ACT exam after you're already enrolled at your university. Because the policies around deferred testing are so unclear, we recommend that you think about this option carefully before you decide to go this route.
If you're in a tight spot testing-wise, you should definitely speak with an admissions counselor at your schools of interest to see if there are flexible options for students to enroll with the good faith intention of submitting ACT/SAT scores later on.
3 Things to Consider When Deciding Which SAT/ACT Option Is Right for You
Making decisions about how to handle college entrance exams during COVID-19 is difficult. Be sure to consider the following factors when deciding which option is right for you.
#1: Look at When You Are Planning to Go to College
One important factor to consider when deciding how to proceed with your plans for taking the ACT/SAT is your college enrollment date. The testing options for students who want to enroll in college for Fall 2020 and those who plan to enroll in Fall 2021 are going to look a little different.
Students who want to enroll in college this fall are already aware that time is running out to take the SAT/ACT before school starts. If this applies to you and your SAT/ACT date(s) has already been canceled once, you might consider not scheduling another testing date. Because it's possible that exam dates in June, July, and August could be canceled as well, it might not be worth it to keep rescheduling when your new testing date may just end up being canceled anyway.
At that point, start looking into the options we talked about above. Check with your schools to see if they're offering a test optional, test flexible, or deferred testing plan. Students looking to start school in the fall of 2020 may find that you may not need to stress about retaking the test at all!
If you're a junior planning to start college in Fall 2021, rescheduling for a fall or early winter ACT/SAT date is the safest bet. Deadlines for fall ACT/SAT dates are still a few months away, and the ACT/SAT plan to expand testing options this fall. This means you have a little extra time to make a decision about whether to register for the ACT or SAT this fall and still have plenty of time to send your scores to the schools you're applying to.
Also, juniors should be very careful about banking on test optional, test flexible, or deferred testing being available for them. Most schools are only adopting these policies provisionally — in other words, they'll return to their normal testing policies as soon as they can. Don't put all your eggs in that basket! Instead, make sure you're scheduling a later fall testing date and studying hard.
#2: Consider Whether Your Scores Are High Enough
We know that some students have already taken the SAT or ACT but want to retake the exams to achieve a higher, more competitive score. But with the continued cancellations and rescheduling of test dates, it might be worth it to look into getting a refund and sticking with the test score you have.
While it's possible that scheduled ACT/SAT administrations for later in the summer may proceed as planned, betting on the chance to retake your exam just to get that higher score before school starts might be unnecessary depending on your goals. For example, if you hoped retaking the ACT/SAT for a higher score would put you in the position to earn college credit, it might be worth it to look into university-specific placement tests to fulfill that purpose instead.
If you're not sure whether your SAT or ACT score is "good enough," don't worry. We can help you figure that out! Check out! If you've taken the SAT, check out this guide to good scores. (We also have a "good scores" guide for the ACT, too.)
#3: Research Whether Your Top Schools Require Exam Scores
Whether you're heading to college in Fall 2020 or Fall 2021, there are some schools that have permanently dropped the ACT/SAT score requirement from their admissions policies. It might be in your best interest to let the admissions requirements for the schools you're applying to determine whether you register for future SAT or ACT administration dates.
For instance, if you are applying to schools that have gone test optional for Fall 2020, you can relax about taking the ACT/SAT this summer. Students who are applying for Fall 2021 admission should look carefully at their schools' admissions requirements, because some schools have extended test optional policies into 2022, or gone test optional permanently.
Figuring this out for each of your schools may seem daunting, but it can save you a lot of stress and heartache in the long run. If you can't find this information on your school's website, don't be afraid to call an admissions counselor for more information.
If you've rescheduled your exams, you'll need to stay up on your studying. Our blog has tons of study resources for both the ACT and the SAT! If you're taking the SAT, a good place to start is our 10-step test prep guide. If you're taking the ACT, we have a step-by-step guide for you, too.
Remember, exam scores are just one part of the admissions application process. One way to adjust for lower test scores is to knock the rest of your application out of the park! This expert guide will walk you through the application process and show you how you can optimize your app.
One of the trickiest parts of your application will be your admissions essays. Here's everything you need to know about writing essays that catch admissions counselors' attention.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.