You probably have googled that very phrase -- "is the SAT cancelled?" -- at least once in the past six months. And for May and June, it was true: College Board cancelled the SAT.
But now that summer is over and College Board has promised August, September, October, November, and December SAT test dates, it seems like the thought of a widespread cancellation is a distant memory.
Or is it?
College Board has made it abundantly clear that it will not be outright cancelling any of the test dates during fall 2020. Instead, it has opted for a different approach that, unfortunately, can yield similar results: local testing centers will determine whether to cancel their test due to covid-19 concerns.
On its face, this policy makes sense. Surely a test site in upstate New York at this stage in the pandemic is experiencing a vastly lower case count than, say, Miami. Why would College Board totally cancel the SAT if the New York test site can administer it under perfectly reasonable safety measures? Seems reasonable enough.
But what about the gray areas? What about a testing site that cancels two weeks -- or even worse, two days -- before the official test? This kind of uncertainty doesn’t seem like it is going to foster your best self on the SAT.
And yet, uncertainty seems like the best that College Board can offer:
“There is limited testing capacity in certain areas due to public health restrictions and high demand. While the College Board cannot directly control test center capacity and availability, we're working to ensure as many students as possible are able to test safely.
Test centers make individual decisions about whether to administer the SAT, and they may close before the administration. We are asking test centers to report closures to the College Board as soon as possible in order to help ensure students are informed and to reduce stress and uncertainty ahead of test day. We also recommend students check directly with the test center, including the test center's website, on the morning of the test.”
The question is, what should YOU do if you plan on taking a fall SAT?
1. Don’t stress! No, really!
Seriously! Literally everyone is experiencing the pandemic, so no college can really hold it over your head if you simply can't take the SAT. That just means that you need to make other parts of your application shine, if necessary.
2. Don’t over-prep!
The days of plopping down with a practice book two weeks before your official SAT may be over (but it of course never hurts to do that!). Instead you should plan on lightly practicing the SAT each day until you are 99% sure the testing site is not going to close, which may be a week or even a few days before the test date.
The key here is that you don’t overexert yourself while prepping for the “one big day” only to find out that the test is cancelled at your site, causing you to spiral into binge-watching Netflix in your pajamas for weeks on end as you question what could have been.
Instead, keep yourself loose so that you can keep preparing in the event you have to take the SAT on another test date. (I mean, hopefully you can test at another site, but there’s no real guarantee.) I’d recommend sitting down for 1 full practice test a week (timed, quiet place, etc.) and then solving practice problems for 30 minutes or an hour each day in total for all three subjects.
3. Don’t lose hope!
Back in March, when College Board decided to cancel the May and June SAT dates, it had probably imagined that the pandemic would be well under control by the end of summer -- didn't we all?
However, as reality is setting in, College Board is still coming to grips with its imperfect "let local test sites call the shots" system. And that means that some students are facing a stark reality that they won’t be taking the August SAT. Still, rest assured knowing that College Board is going to make the SAT as available as possible (hopefully), even if there are hiccups along the way.
So, is the SAT cancelled? That would be a no with a big asterisk. Welcome to college admissions entrance exams in an uncertain world. Thankfully, for you, you can adapt to the uncertainty!
Need help adapting to the uncertainty of the fall 2020 SAT dates? Want to get in some prep before your test? Check out our SAT cram classes, semester-long classes, and individual tutoring options for our Fall Session. Our September/October SAT Cram class starts THIS SATURDAY and we are still accepting new students! Not sure what is the best approach for the SAT? Set up a 1:1 consultation with James or Emily, our directors!