Rising high school seniors nervous about admission as college entrance exams continue to be canceled

After months of preparing and spending thousands of dollars on tutoring, many high school juniors and seniors across the DMV are wondering if they’ll even get to take their college admission test and make it into their dream school.

COVID-19 has forced many testing centers to cancel testing dates for the exams nationwide. 

Some students in Montgomery County told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Wednesday, they fear that the lack of testing will impact scholarships and college admissions.

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Many of them shared emails they received either from College Board, the company that administers the SAT or from MCPS telling them that their testing location won’t be administrating an exam.

“I cried to my dad about it because of how broken I was because I studied countless amount of hours,” said Amanda Catipon a rising senior Northwest High school in Germantown. She was supposed to take the August 29th SAT exam at Springbrook High School, only to be informed by the school system that it has been cancelled for that location. 

When it has come to getting a standardized test score during the pandemic, the timing of it all has been cruel to rising high school seniors and juniors around the DMV and across the country.

"I would honestly drive the farthest I can to take the SAT because of how important it is to me,” said Catipon.

Students weren’t able to take the SAT at their schools in April, and many ACT testings were canceled over the spring and summer after test sites, mostly inside schools, closed their doors.

“I understand that because of this virus it has to be canceled but places in different counties get to take it but then places in Montgomery County don’t get to take it both with the same precautions, it’s unfair,” said Ryan Syednaveed, a rising junior at Northwest High school.

Even with many colleges making the exam test optional, some students believe it won’t actually work in their favor.

“We know it says ‘test optional’ but we also know that it’s not,” said Nick Asante, a rising senior at Richard Montgomery High School.

“The fear is that if I don’t submit that score then I know that I will be at a disadvantage because I didn’t have the opportunity to take the test.”

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In a statement to FOX 5, a spokesperson for College Board said the following:

“As schools continue to navigate uncertainties due to the coronavirus, the top priorities for the College Board are the health and safety of students and educators.

The August 29 administration is scheduled to proceed as planned. 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.

Local schools and test centers make individual decisions about whether to administer the SAT. Test centers 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. 

Colleges understand that due to the pandemic there are limited opportunities for students to take a college entrance exam. Most colleges are not requiring a test score for the upcoming admissions cycle. While almost all still accept scores, most are rightfully being flexible for students who submit scores later or who did not have a chance to test more than once. And it's more important than ever to pay close attention to the context in which all students live and learn as they make admissions decisions. Students should check the college’s website for the most updated information on their application requirements.”

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FOX 5 also reached out to the ACT, and they provided the following statement: 

“Unfortunately, it’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us into the fall. This means continued limitations in test center capacity and inevitable cancellations throughout the remainder of our 2020 test dates. To accommodate the demand for testing brought on by spring and summer test date cancellations and closures due to COVID-19, we opened up our Sunday testing to all test-takers and added new test dates in September and October.

In addition to the changes we’ve already made to add more capacity (opening up our Sunday testing to all students and adding new test dates in September and October), here are a few more examples of what we’re working on: 

• Pop-up sites in areas most affected by cancellations.

• Partnering with commercial testing companies to share their already-existing space within communities.

• Working with state Boards of Regents, colleges, and universities to help them administer “On-Campus Testing” for their students.

• Working with school districts to help them become an ACT test site for their students (these are called unlisted test centers and are not available on MyACT, the student registration site).  

We’re working diligently to help students and families navigate their path forward in this ever-changing environment. We’ll continue to work with test centers to open up as much capacity as possible to provide secure testing opportunities that adhere to CDC and local public health guidelines for the safety and health of students and test center staff. We encourage students to keep checking their MyACT accounts for the most up-to-date information on registration and testing.”

“For the AP exams they figured out a way to have them administered at home so I’m wondering why the College Board isn’t thinking of alternatives for the SAT in the same way it could be administered at home,” suggested Asante.