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Oregon Family Magazine

College Testing and Admissions in the Age of Coronavirus

06/03/2020 ● By Joshua Hirschstein
Due to the pandemic, college admissions and testing expectations are changing for those who anticipate entering college in Fall, 2021. The situation is currently very fluid as colleges and testing companies assess the logistics and risks of meeting in group settings. Prospective students should carefully research and communicate with their individual schools of choice about changing admissions requirements and campus scenarios.

Many colleges that have traditionally required SAT/ACT test scores are now choosing to make the exam optional for Fall, 2021 (and possibly future years). A list of colleges shifting to test-optional due to the pandemic can be found at

The purveyors of both the SAT and ACT, as of May 18, hold that future exams will be given in local school settings as has been done in the past. However, both testing companies are creating online testing options should in-person testing be cancelled. The design and logistics of an online testing option have not been released.

The current scheduled test dates, which are subject to change, are:

·       SAT: Aug 29, Sep 26, Oct 3, Nov 7, Dec 5

·       ACT: Jul 18, Sep 12, Oct 24, Dec 12

For updated information:

·       SAT:

·       ACT:

Testing Advice: A student who anticipates being a higher-range scorer should surely sign up for one of the Fall 2020 test dates. Uplifting scores only assist in an application. Keep in mind that taking the test in August or September allows time for a retake. If you anticipate being a lower-range scorer, be patient for another few weeks and see what your colleges of choice recommend. [If you are unsure if you are a higher- or lower-range scorer, take a practice exam on your own time to find out. Free practice tests you can score are available on the test administrators’ websites listed above.]

Most importantly: What students do with their time and circumstances – how one “digs in” and makes the best of what is - says a lot about an individual’s character, capacity, and maturity. Keep showing your desire to learn in and outside your classes; keep researching and communicating with future school options and opportunities that interest you. Reach out, however you can, with your curiosity and desire to help oneself and others. These are the most important traits that colleges seek in applicants.

Joshua Hirschstein, the director of Lane Tutoring Service, Inc. in Eugene, has advised students on testing and college admissions since 1990.