SAT/ACT

An increasing number of universities are dropping the SAT and ACT requirement for fall 2021 admissions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's high school juniors may finally do what they've often dreamed: kiss their college prep books goodbye.

An increasing number of universities are dropping the SAT and ACT requirement for fall 2021 admissions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With high schools across the nation shut down or in limited operation, ACT Inc. and the College Board, the companies behind the ACT and SAT, canceled administrations of the exams until June, prompting a record number of colleges and universities to suspend the standardized test requirement or make it optional.

In total, about 51 universities and colleges have dropped the ACT/SAT requirement for at least fall 2021 in recent months, according to a list by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, a nonprofit organization working to end the misuse of standardized testing.

They include Boston University, which announced it's going test-optional for students applying for the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters, and the University of California, which said all nine of the schools in its system would suspend the requirement for students applying for fall 2021.

Some schools are going test-optional for even longer, as is the case with the extremely competitive Tufts University, which announced it would make the tests optional for a three-year period.

Others, including Tulane University, all Oregon public universities, the University of Washington, Scripps College, Northeastern University and Texas Christian University have all made testing optional for fall 2021 or longer.

But 51 schools aren't enough for Student Voice. This student-run nonprofit group is calling for all colleges and universities to adopt test-optional policies for fall 2021 with a campaign called #TestOptionalNOW.

"There are many students across the country who no longer have access to test prep... their school's free test date... whose living situation has been changed and no longer have time to study for standardized tests. Those are the students that this test-optional campaign aims to help," Maodon Tohouri, a junior at Amador Valley High School in California, said in a news conference.

Ed Colby, spokesman for ACT, Inc., told CNN that its scores are still widely being used in admissions and scholarship decisions and that while some schools were making "temporary adjustments to their admission criteria to mitigate Covid-19 impact on applications and enrollment," the organization is reminding both students and colleges alike "that ACT remains committed to benefiting them both."

"The health and safety of students is our first priority and we are collaborating with higher education institutions to provide flexibility to students and to support admissions under these unprecedented circumstances," Jerome White, spokesman for the College Board, said in a statement to CNN.

The College Board will provide additional SAT testing dates "as soon as the public health situation allows," White added.

With health officials still unsure how long the coronavirus pandemic will persist in the US, students across the country have received little insight on when they'll be back in class.

If schools haven't reopened by the fall, students will be able to take the SAT from home, the not-for-profit that administers the test said Wednesday.

The news follows an earlier announcement by the organization that said Advanced Placement (AP) exams would also be taken digitally by students this spring.

"As with at-home AP Exams, the College Board would ensure that at-home SAT testing is simple; secure and fair; accessible to all; and valid for use in college admissions," the organization said in a statement.

At least 3 million students will be taking their AP exams online, the College Board said.

The College Board said that while this would be the first time SATs would be taken by students from home, it would not be the first time the test is administered digitally, adding it had already been done in several states and districts over the past year.

"Like the paper test, a digital, remote version of the SAT would measure what students are learning in school and what they need to know to be successful in college," it said.

The digital, at-home test is one of three contingencies the College Board said it is planning to make tests available to students during the coronavirus pandemic.

If schools are open in the fall, the organization said it will offer in-school make up exams for tests that were canceled this spring. If it is safe to do so, the nonprofit also said it would begin offering the SAT again every month starting in August and through the end of 2020.

The announcements come amidst a rapidly changing landscape in the college admissions process. Already, at least 51 colleges and universities have dropped the ACT/SAT requirements at least through the fall of 2021, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing reported.

Others have announced they're making those tests optional for an even longer period. Tufts University said it was going test-optional for three years. Tulane University, the University of Washington, Northeastern University and others have said they're making testing optional for fall 2021 or longer.

In its Wednesday announcement, the College Board said it "fully supports admissions officers at member colleges who have said the circumstances of the public health crisis will be taken into account when considering tests scores, grades, and extracurricular activities in the coming year."

College Board CEO David Coleman said that while all students would normally have the ability to take the SAT, the pandemic has had different effects on different households.

"The families hit hardest are most often those with the fewest resources," the College Board said, citing Coleman."Our commitment to students is to give them as many opportunities as we can to show their strengths to admissions officers, while relying on the guidance of public health officials," Coleman said in a statement.

CNN's Alicia Lee and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.

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