After a spring and summer in which the pandemic thwarted the chances of many high school students to take college admissions tests, the SAT added a September date for the first time in decades, and more than 334,000 students registered to sharpen their No. 2 pencils on Saturday.
But at least half of them still won’t be able to take it.
Nearly four in 10 testing sites that were set to administer the SAT this weekend have told the College Board, the group that creates the exam, that they will be closed because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in their communities. About 183,000 students are registered at those sites.
Test takers in August encountered similar obstacles, when more than half of the 402,000 students who registered for the SAT were unable to take it because of closures.
“I fully understand the emotions students and families are feeling,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, the College Board’s vice president of college readiness assessments. “There’s the normal stress of applying to college. Imagine doing it this year with Covid.”
Each local testing center determines whether it is safe to administer the exam, the College Board said, adding that closures for Saturday have been concentrated mostly in California and the Northeast. Testing sites that remain open are required to enforce mask-wearing and social-distancing rules.
Of those that remain open Saturday, only 9 percent are at full capacity, the College Board said, but it’s too late for students whose site has closed to register elsewhere. The test will be offered again in November and December, though early application deadlines for colleges start in November.
Roughly 2.2 million students took the SAT in 2019. So far, nearly a million have been able to take it this year. The College Board is hoping another one million can take the test in the coming three weeks, including on Saturday and other dates in which “school-day” versions of it are offered; those tend to draw students from lower-income populations, the group said.
The SAT’s rival test, the ACT, has faced similar disruptions.
Though more than half of U.S. colleges and universities, including many of the most competitive, have dropped the requirement for standardized test scores this year, some students said they still believe forgoing the exam could hurt their prospects.
“It’s hard for me to trust that two people’s applications will be weighed the same if one of them has a test score and. the other doesn’t,” said Myriam Joseph-Schilz, a high school senior from Bethesda, Md.