Across the globe, students have no choice left but to adapt as measures to fight COVID-19 including closed schools and cancelled standardized tests has toppled every aspect of their education. And every applicant is facing a nagging concern: how these changes will affect my college prospects?
For the students planning to enrol this fall, it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to make it to campus. For international students planning to apply to college this fall, cancelled testing, visa process delays, and travel restrictions will make it even harder to plan for the admissions process.


As a response to coronavirus, College entrance exams for 2021 have either cancelled or postponed further

SAT/SAT Subject Tests: College Board has cancelled May 2, 2020, SAT and SAT Subject Test administration. Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) were also cancelled. Currently, the next SAT has been scheduled for the first weekend of June. For International Students, the June test date is offering only SAT Subject Tests and not SAT. College Board is also considering adding additional test dates especially in the regions heavily affected by coronavirus but nothing has been confirmed yet. It is also stated by the college board that the questions for exams will be adjusted keeping in mind that the students have missed a large chunk of their school.

Advanced Placement Exam: College Board has notified that traditional face-to-face AP exam administrations will not take place. Students will be taking a 45-minute online free-response exam at their homes only. The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will appear on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3. I t has also been decided that for each AP subject, there are going to be 2 different testing dates. To be fair to all students, especially to the ones who have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will only include topics and skills most students have already covered in class by early March. College Board is also providing free study material.

ACT: The April ACT, across the nations, has been moved to June. ACT has sent instructions on how to register for free for the exam to be held on June 13 to the students who were registered for the April exams. No additional announcements have been made about additional testing dates.

TOEFL: ETS has announced that students from the US, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong (China) and Macau (China) will be able to take the TOEFL at home this spring, following the closure of testing sites. The students who were planning to appear for TOEFL this spring as part of their college entrance exams should continue to prepare and take the test within their original time frame according to the availability of dates and testing centres.


University of Harvard – Harvard has notified that Applicants will not face a penalty if their high schools move to a pass-fail grading system or if they are unable to retake the SAT or ACT. The University will continue to look at the whole person as they consider applications for the next year – as always. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years – including community involvement, employment will all be considered. Students who find themselves restricted in the activities they can pursue due to the current coronavirus outbreak will not be disadvantaged as a result.

MIT – MIT has decided to no longer consider the SAT Subject Tests as part of the admissions process but they will continue to require the SAT or the ACT. The University will not even consider the test scores of the students who have already taken the subject tests as now they are neither recommended nor optional.

University of California – The University of California has taken several steps to temporarily adjust admissions requirements. The measures include adjourning the letter grade requirement for academic classes taken in winter, spring or summer terms of 2020; providing flexibility for students who need more time to meet registration, deposit and transcript deadlines; and suspending the standardized test requirement (SAT and ACT) for students applying for admission as freshmen for fall 2021. May 1 remains the deadline for students to accept their admissions offers remains. Despite changes in the format and content of AP exams this year, the university will continue to award with scores of 3, 4 or 5 credit for exams.

Tufts University – Undergraduate Applicants who are applying for admission in the Fall 2021 semester will have test-optional admissions policy. First-year and transfer applicants will be given a choice about whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores. If applicants choose to submit the exam results or they don’t, the evaluation of their applications will be done in a nuanced and contextual way. The University no longer requires SAT Subject Tests, the SAT Essay, or the writing section of the ACT, nor are they will be reviewed in the evaluation process.


As we know that extra-curricular activities are the perfect ways to explore your interest and colleges also consider it an important aspect in a student’s profile but due to the pandemic the option to pursue your interest has come to a halt. Sports seasons are over, competitions have been either cancelled or postponed but please keep in mind that the activities have stopped for everyone right now. The Universities and the admission officials are aware of this and want the applicants to know that these roadblocks in regular activities will not be held against anyone. It has not been confirmed if Common App will provide an option in the 2020-21 applications for students to provide more details on their activities due to the COVID-19 response but if not, then the students can use the “Additional Information” section to explain the gaps in their activities. Students can use their time at home to pursue online courses to explore their interests.


Due to the pandemic, the students will also have to cancel college visits and information sessions. This has brought concerns for many students as to how can they continue to research the colleges and build their balanced college list without visiting the colleges in person. Applicants should continue to explore their college of interest by registering for virtual tours if your college offers one. Colleges are also offering virtual info sessions; you should take this advantage and register for them too. You should not stop learning about your college even if you cannot physically visit them. If you can go this fall, gathering all the information is going to enhance your college visit experience.


Most of the summer school programs at major colleges and Universities have not confirmed anything as of now. While some programs may be cancelled, some Colleges and Universities are planning to switch to online programs and that too at a discounted price. To use their time at home, students should look out for online courses according to their interests. You can also start exploring other interests such as writing blogs, reading, and other creative options.


Just like everyone, admission officers are also going through the same challenges as we are – cancelled events, work from home, helplessness to engage in normal day-to-day activities and many more. Therefore, they completely understand that these things are affecting students as well and will surely take into account while evaluating the applications.
We should expect that the admission officers will surely take into consideration the activities that either got stopped in between or competitions that were cancelled because of COVID-19. This applies to all the facets of the college application including grades, test scores, activities, demonstrated interest, etc. Now that many schools are going test-optional for the admission rounds, the process may even become more holistic as colleges are going to evaluate students within the frame of context as this was a very unusual year.
While we can’t expect schools to intensely change their admission rubrics, the guideline will become more flexible which will allow the admission officers to evaluate the factors differently to give a more holistic review. For example, as the extracurricular activities have now halted and ongoing semester grading might not reflect a student’s full abilities, attention will be given to the recommendation letters that can fill in additional context. Also, as the college visit and information seminars have now been cancelled, Universities and Colleges that used to rely on demonstrated interest may now provide more attention to the essays for informed interest.

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