More And More Colleges Dropping ACT / SAT Requirements

For years, the ACT and SAT requirements have been an integral part of the college application process. For most students preparing for and taking these standardized tests was the most stressful part of applying to college.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed all that.

Granted, there was a growing trend of colleges dropping ACT/SAT requirements prior to the outbreak, but this may be the final straw for some. Many colleges are switching to test-optional or straight up dropping the requirement all together. Let’s take a deeper look.

Balled up tests thrown into a wastebasket.

Here’s What is Happening with the ACT/SAT

Because of the highly infectious nature of the coronavirus, educational institutions all over the country were forced to shut down overnight. Classes were conducted online until the end of the semester.

The College Board and ACT Inc. also canceled their scheduled tests because of the social distancing guidelines. At first they only canceled all tests until May 2020. They recently announced they would be canceling all tests until June 2020. Still, nobody can say with any certainty whether tests will continue as scheduled in June or if they will be canceled yet again. Everything is on wait and watch right now.

Both organizations are looking into conducting online tests but there are several inherent problems with this solution. It’s not yet clear whether online testing will happen at all.

Meanwhile, Here’s How Colleges are Reacting

Some colleges announced right away that they would drop their ACT/SAT requirements for the 2020 admissions. Others decided to wait and see how things progressed. With no resolution in sight, more and more colleges are announcing that they are dropping their ACT/SAT requirements.

Most colleges that have suspended the test requirements have stressed that this suspension is temporary. The ACT and SAT testing waivers are only valid for the 2020 admissions. Others, like Stanford and Yale, (as of today) have not waived the requirement despite the pandemic.

You can find the complete list of colleges and universities that have already waived their ACT/SAT requirements here. The FairTest updates this list regularly as each college announces that they will be suspending their testing. It started off as a small list but it is growing longer every day as more and more colleges are deciding to drop testing.

Beyond Fall 2020

While many colleges are dropping requirements for the upcoming fall semester, some are going beyond just the 2020 school year. Some colleges, like the University of California system, are suspending through fall 2021 as well. Others are extending the waivers further than that—Haverford College and Rhodes College for example are suspending for a three year trial period, with plans to reevaluate afterwards.

Some schools are going as far as dropping the requirement permanently. Scripps recently announced it would no longer need standardized testing in applications.

What Should You Do?

The best thing you can do right now is to stay updated on the latest developments. Visit the College Board and ACT sites and the websites of your shortlisted colleges regularly. If your preferred college has not announced a suspension of testing requirements, make sure you schedule in some test prep time. That will help you be better prepared if taking the test remains a mandatory requirement for your college.

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