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[9/14/20: This post is updated weekly and summarizes the current status of college admission testing and test preparation opportunities with Compass.]

The Compass team continues to work safely and remotely to provide a full level of service to our clients. We expect our suspension of any in-person activities to remain in effect through at least the end of 2020. Our dedicated team of directors and talented team of tutors are here to help you with all of your test preparation and academic needs, especially during this difficult time.

ONLINE TUTORING

Our students are conducting all of their live, one-on-one lessons through our online platform. More information on online tutoring can be found here.

PRACTICE TESTING

As a Compass student, you have multiple options to complete practice tests: 

  1. We host online proctored practice tests supervised by a live proctor every weekend.
  2. We are proud to be the first test prep company to offer online practice exams that simulate the interactive experience of computer-based testing. (ACT only)
  3. We can mail a practice test for you to self-proctor, either on your own or using our pre-recorded testing videos.

WEBINARS

To keep families informed during this tumultuous period, Compass hosts a series of webinars on the current college admission testing landscape. We include the very latest policy updates and provide sensible strategic guidance for planning and preparation. To register for an upcoming presentation or to view one of our recent recordings, visit our webinars page.

SAT UPDATES

The College Board has added a September SAT to their fall schedule. The current calendar of fall 2020 SATs is: 

  • Saturday, August 29
  • Saturday, September 26 (new)
  • Saturday, October 3
  • Saturday, November 7
  • Saturday, December 5
  • January 2021 TBD – likely to be announced this fall to address demand

Rather than canceling an entire test date as it did in May and June, the College Board plans to let upcoming test cancelations occur by location, so please monitor the status of your test site regularly. Some host sites have already posted August and September cancelations. For the latest site closures, click here.

Registration opened for these fall dates in May. Many sites have already reached capacity, so if you are planning to take an SAT this year, we recommend you register ASAP. On August 17th, College Board announced the removal of Waitlist Status for the August test date. We suspect this may also be the case for future fall 2020 test dates.

College Board requires test takers to wear masks.

ACT UPDATES

ACT canceled its April test, but offered the June and July tests at locations across the country where health conditions allowed. The current calendar of fall 2020 ACTs is:

  • Saturday, September 12
  • Sunday, September 13
  • Saturday, September 19 (new)
  • Saturday, October 10 (new)
  • Saturday, October 17 (new)
  • Saturday, October 24
  • Sunday, October 25
  • Saturday, December 12

After a failed launch on 7/27, ACT’s new registration platform re-opened on 8/3 for all fall test dates. Sites are filling quickly. We recommend you register ASAP.

Previously announced plans to debut section re-testing have been postponed indefinitely. Previously announced plans to offer the computer-based ACT in the United States in September 2020 have also been postponed. ACT, however, hopes to launch an online test in 2021. See ACT’s COVID-19 updates here.

ACT recommends test takers to wear masks.

TEST OPTIONAL POLICIES

COVID-19 has pushed many colleges and universities to adopt temporary test optional policies, with some schools permanently eliminating the requirement. Compass tracks the details of these testing policies at over 400 popular schools here.

Student-athletes initially enrolling full-time during the 2021-22 academic year intending to play NCAA Division I or Division II athletics will not be required to submit test scores. This includes the Ivy League which had previously waived its league’s testing requirement for prospective student athletes in the 2020-21 admission cycle.

SUBJECT TEST POLICIES

As many colleges and universities adopt test-optional policies, their Subject Test requirements and recommendations have also softened. Keep track of the changes here.

AP EXAMS

The most updated information can be found here. For those who had an incomplete exam submission for any of the online 2020 AP Exams and did not retest in June, there was a final opportunity to test Aug 24-31.

Adam Ingersoll

About Adam Ingersoll

Adam began his career in test prep in 1993 while at the University of Southern California, where he was a student-athlete on the basketball team, worked in the admission office, and graduated magna cum laude. Over the last two decades he has guided thousands of families to successful experiences with standardized tests and has mentored hundreds of the industry's most sought-after tutors. Adam is known nationally as a leading expert on college admission testing and is a frequent presenter at higher ed conferences, faculty development workshops, and school seminars.

38 Comments

  • Avatar Nadia says:

    So almost every school is closed right. I am sophomore and I wondered if Covid 19 doesn’t end quickly. The colleges have suspended SAT, so we don’t have worry about that. But how are we going to participate in extracurricular activities? They still want see extracurricular when schools are closed. Thank you

  • Avatar Debbie says:

    Hello,
    I am still confused about the testing section in the common app where you can self-report her testing scores. My daughter has a lower SAT score that she prefers not to send to colleges. Is it better to leave this section open and send her two highest score through the College Board if the college is super scoring.

    Super scoring means that she can send in her two highest scores through the College Board, right? Only when colleges ask for all scores, she needs to send all her scores. Thank you!

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Debbie,

      The answer to your question can get complicated quickly because different schools have different policies for superscoring (taking the highest section scores from multiple sittings), score choice (choosing which scores to send to colleges), and self-report (submitting scores through the application, rather than sending directly from the testing agency). Some allow all of these practices, while some don’t allow any. For more details, read our blog posts about these specific topics:
      https://www.compassprep.com/superscore-and-score-choice/
      https://www.compassprep.com/self-reporting-test-scores/

      Be sure to always check with the individual schools your daughter is applying to to make sure they allow superscoring, score choice, and/or self-report. You’ll get the most accurate information directly from the admissions offices!

  • Avatar Brenda says:

    Ivy League schools like Harvard have rolled 340 of its students from class of 2020 into class of 2021. Nobody is talking about the chances these 2021 kids lose. I read one article that said the sophomore classes will be smaller this year so they may be able to make up the number with incoming freshman. However that doesn’t make sense does it, if they went down their wait lists. The class of 2020 would still be full – leaving 2021 freshman with fewer chances, especially in top schools. Can someone please share their thoughts?

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Brenda,
      Unfortunately, it’s too early to say what the future effects of the fall 2020 semester will be. It depends on many factors, most of which are still unknown. We expect some factors will make competition higher and some will lower it. Our best advice to the class of 2021 is to individualize their questions related to their specific target colleges, watch those colleges carefully this fall, inquire specifically about strategic plans, and then control what they can. Whether it’s “harder” or “easier” to get into schools next fall shouldn’t change a student’s approach to applying; they should always attempt to submit the most competitive application they can. This year – even with all the unknowns – is no different.

  • Avatar Veronica says:

    What do you know about PSAT fall 2020 for juniors?
    Is it going to be administered with many high schools being online only for start of fall 2020?
    What will be impact on National Merit Scholarship program if junior-year PSAT is not administered?
    I could not find any information about PSAT fall 2020 in light of Covid?

    Thank you

    • Avatar Art Sawyer says:

      Veronica,
      From the perspective of the College Board, the October 2020 is on and unlikely to be cancelled. However, most of the administrative responsibilities for the PSAT fall to individual schools. We are already hearing reports of schools that will be cancelling the PSAT this year. These decisions will be made at the district or school level, and some schools will be waiting to see what the state of the outbreak is in their communities as October approaches.

      We have heard no word from NMSC. It will be a challenging decision. National Merit has used the PSAT for 50 years, but if only half of students are able to take the PSAT, it would damage the integrity of the program to stick exclusively with the PSAT. There are just too many unknowns to predict what NMSC will decide. It’s unlikely that NMSC will make an announcement until it sees how broadly the PSAT is offered this year.

  • Avatar jodie says:

    How do you think the government’s policies regarding international students, particularly those who would be college freshman Fall 2020, and their desire or possible requirement to defer, will affect acceptances for US students applying for Fall 2021 entrance? Do you think there will be significantly more competition from international students (and perhaps US students also) reapplying and/or deferring? Thank you!

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Jodie,
      Unfortunately, it’s too early to say what the future effects of the fall 2020 semester will be. It’s also hard to predict what the government’s policies regarding international students will be next fall as this is an election year. (And I believe the specific policies you’re referring to relate to online classes, which may or may not be a major factor for fall 2021.) There are a lot of unknowns right now. Our best advice to the class of 2021 is to control what they can. Whether it’s “harder” or “easier” to get into schools next fall shouldn’t change a student’s approach to applying; they should always attempt to submit the most competitive application they can. This year – even with all the unknowns – is no different.

  • Avatar Anushka says:

    Hello, I have a few questions:
    1. Will admissions officers now be putting more emphasis on essays, grades, and extracurriculars if I do not send in my ACT score?

    2. What information will admissions officers turn to if I don’t send in my ACT scores? Will they assume that I just have a bad ACT score if I opt not to send it in?

    3. If I don’t send in my ACT score but my high school peers apply to the same school with their ACT scores sent in, does that put me at an automatic disadvantage?

  • Avatar Ginger says:

    Will there be more schools considering super score (regardless the number of attempts) due to the outbreak? How many attempts are too many that may become a disadvantage? If there are record break students taking SAT this fall, will the curve get better or more easier for students get higher grade? Thank you!

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Ginger,

      I don’t think we’ve heard many schools comment on superscoring. With the current situation, some students may only have the opportunity to test one or two times before submitting applications, so there isn’t a lot of concern about taking the test “too many” times. As for the grading of the test, it is a common misconception that students are competing against each other on test day. The scale for each test is actually developed well in advance and is not dependent on how well or poorly the students sitting for the official exam perform.

  • Avatar Lilia says:

    How important for STEM junior to take SAT Subject Tests? Many elite colleges decided to no longer consider the SAT Subject Tests for student entering in 2021. My kid has taken SAT I and SAT Math II last year with decent scores. Do you think it is better to take another Subject Test even though the colleges are not consider?

    • Avatar Art Sawyer says:

      Lilia,
      It’s impossible to make a blanket statement, because attitudes toward Subject Tests have shifted inconsistently from college to college. Some colleges use a variation of “the lack of Subject Test scores will not put a student at a disadvantage.” This very much leaves open the possibility that strong Subject Test scores can still provide an advantage. Where a college has made a clear statement that Subject Test scores will be ignored, then you can take the school at its word. Note that some policies are specific to your student’s year, since colleges have relaxed testing requirements. Yale, for example, says that “any scores sent to Yale will not be made available to the Admissions Committee” for the class of 2021.

      If your student has a chance of scoring 750+, then a Subject Test may make sense. Given the lack of testing dates, however, getting the best score possible on the SAT should be the first priority.

  • Avatar Heidi says:

    Thank you for a very informative blogpost. With regard to choosing test dates, has SAT or ACT announced whether any new dates added (or make-ups for canceled tests) will include the Question-and-Answer service (QAS) or Test-Information-Release (TIR)? Adam, I remember your saying in a presentation that you wouldn’t have your own children bother taking an SAT or ACT if they couldn’t get the the QAS or TIR. Given COVID, what would you advise as far as test dates/testing timeline for a current junior? How about for a sophomore?

    I know this is a pretty in-depth question with a lot of unknowns, but I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts given what information we currently have. I am a counselor and a lot of parents really want to formulate a plan “right now” for test prep and test taking; a reply of “let’s wait and see” seems to be provoking more anxiety. Many thanks for all you do!

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Heidi,

      We do not recommend skipping a test date because it doesn’t include QAS/TIR. These services may be helpful for students who plan to retake a test because they can review the questions and correct mistakes on the next one. However, current juniors likely won’t be able to test until fall of their senior year when there are fewer retake opportunities before application deadlines, which means they should take advantage of any test date they can. A student could get similar benefit of the QAS/TIR by taking a practice test and treating it like the “real thing”. Compass allows students to keep their practice test booklets and provides comprehensive score reports for review.

  • Avatar Maygan says:

    Hi, I’m Maygan
    This year I’ll be a college freshmen, is it true that SAT/ACT requirements for college admissions are cancelled??

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Maygan,

      The SAT/ACT requirements for college admissions haven’t been cancelled altogether. Some schools are instituting temporary Test Optional policies for students applying to college this fall. (We’re keeping track of the policies at 400+ popular colleges and universities here: https://www.compassprep.com/college-profiles/)

      However, since you are entering your freshman year in college this fall and not applying for next year, these policies won’t affect you. Congratulations and have fun in school!

  • Avatar Dawn says:

    How do you foresee Covid-19 impacting those selected as Semifinalist in the 2021 National Merit Program, and their attempt to achieve Finalist status with limited SAT/ACT opportunities? Fortunately my child has had the opportunity to test (and hopefully will meet the cutoff on both accounts,) although I know many others have not. I am hopeful this does not hinder either catagory of Students worthy of the distinction moving forward. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge!

    • Avatar Art Sawyer says:

      Dawn,
      It’s too early to say what NMSC intends to do. If we continue to see dates wiped out across the summer and into the fall, it will be difficult to maintain the SAT/ACT as confirming scores. They have traditionally allowed scores up until December. By that point, SAT and ACT should have at-home testing as a back-up option.

  • Avatar Joseph says:

    How will COVID-19 impact the ability of international students to apply and enroll in american schools?

    If there are less International students will then admissions be easier ?.

    • Avatar Art Sawyer says:

      Joseph,
      That’s an interesting question, although I think there is also concern about the ability of U.S. students to apply and enroll in U.S. schools. There likely will be fewer international students this year, but there are so many changing variables — what campuses will open, will students stay closer to home, will there be a “flight to quality”, will college be able to offer the same levels of financial aid — that I don’t think we can look at international students alone as the biggest factor. Highly competitive schools will remain highly competitive.

  • Avatar Karen says:

    Hello! During this changing time I am wondering if the answers to the following have surfaced?
    How will COVID affect the admission standards for Class of 2021 athletic recruits?
    Are colleges hurting financially? Will they be incentivized to admit students who can pay full tuition?

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Karen,

      This crisis is absolutely making life harder for recruiters. Everyone is hurting financially. Full-pay athletes have always typically had more options, all else being equal. Scholarship funds are always very limited. Impact of COVID-19 on traditional financial aid resources is very case-by-case. This topic is always sport-specific and level-specific. For a 2021, I would be especially focused on cultivating relationships with college coaches and local advocates (high school and club coaches) to see what they can share about how 2021 recruiting is being affected for your sport at your target schools. Needs will shift based on what coaches expect will happen to their returning rosters. A lot of the usual recruiting channels (summer showcases, campus visits, club seasons) are shut down. But still focus on what you can control: updating a skills video, strength training, coach outreach, deep research, etc.

  • Avatar lily says:

    What colleges in alabama are allowing students to go to their college with no ACT/SAT scores?

  • Avatar Barbara says:

    Could you kindly advise as to when your webinar for this evening will be posted to your website online for viewing? I am taking an on-line class from Cyndy McDonald at UCLA and did not know you had a capacity limit. Many thanks.

  • Avatar John says:

    Adam,
    In lieu of the lack of possible SAT/ACT scores for those soon to be seniors that would like to complete Early Admission, have you heard of any schools that are willing to accept the PSAT-11 since I believe over 95% of juniors were able to take that exam? Form other posts you have made, I know it was scored on the tougher side, but at least it is something to show prospective admission departments.
    Thank You,
    John

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi John,

      At this time, we haven’t yet heard any colleges announce that they’d be willing to accept PSAT scores in lieu of SAT/ACT scores. I’ll update you if we do!

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      John, we just heard that Swarthmore will be accepting PSAT and PreACT scores for application in Fall 2021 and 2022: https://www.swarthmore.edu/admissions-aid/offering-flexibility-to-students-and-our-commitment-to-you

      • Avatar Kent says:

        Hi Margaux,

        Do you think other colleges (especially liberal arts colleges) will follow Swarthmore’s lead to accept PSAT and PreACT scores for applications entering Fall 2021? What might tip that balance in your opinion? Thanks!

        • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

          Hi Kent,

          I think the first thing that tipped the balance was Swarthmore making this announcement – after the first school makes a new policy change, other schools are more likely to follow. The other thing that might tip the balance is additional SAT and ACT test dates getting canceled. If there are fewer opportunities to test, schools are more likely to be more lenient and inclusive with their testing policies.

          It’s also important to note that PSAT and PreACT scores aren’t replacements for SAT and ACT scores, as Swarthmore has gone Test Optional for fall 2021 applications. Rather, allowing students to submit these scores provides an opportunity for them to show an official test which may help strengthen their application (like AP and Subject Test scores).

  • Avatar Chris says:

    My son is a junior. His extracurricular activities were canceled indefinitely. We are all so very worried on how he is going to catch up and be ready for application season. Have you any idea how this is going to affect him?
    Thank you

    • Margaux Erilane Margaux Erilane says:

      Hi Chris,

      We understand the worry your family is feeling, and you’re not alone in those feelings. You should know the burden does not fall solely on the applicants – college admissions is a two-way process and both sides are being impacted. Colleges and applicants both want the same thing, and colleges know they will need to make adjustments for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Many admissions offices are being very understanding during these uncertain times. For example, a note from Harvard addressed this very issue: “Students who find themselves limited in the activities they can pursue due to the current coronavirus outbreak will not be disadvantaged as a result.” (Read the full announcement here: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2020/3/21/harvard-coronavirus-applications-admissions-guidance/)

      We hope this information can provide some relief during this time, but please feel free to reach out to us with any other questions. Our director team is always ready to help!

  • Avatar Patti says:

    Thanks, Adam, for the important information that you, and Compass, are providing at this unusual time.

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