Spring is normally the time of year when juniors kick their ACT, SAT, and Subject Test prep into high gear. This year, a growing number of test cancellations due to COVID-19 adds another layer of anxiety to an already busy and stressful time in juniors’ lives. But there’s a lot of good news for students who are worried about these test cancellations affecting their college application timelines.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’re getting from high school juniors. Have a question not answered below? Submit it to us here.


What will colleges do if I can’t fit in an ACT or SAT before Early Decision deadlines?

First, it’s likely you’ll have at least one opportunity to sit for the ACT or SAT before Early Decision deadlines. You are not alone—school closures and testing cancellations are affecting students all over the world—and the College Board and ACT are extremely motivated to give rising seniors opportunities to complete their exams ahead of application deadlines.

More good news: university admissions offices have been responding to this public health crisis with understanding and flexibility, as they have in situations of relevant magnitude in the past. Harvard became the first school to release a formal statement acknowledging how the coronavirus impacts applicants. They’re encouraging students not to worry about sitting for the ACT and SAT multiple times. With Harvard leading the way, there’s a good chance other universities will follow suit and take similarly sympathetic approaches to standardized testing.

More schools are also going test-optional. Tufts recently introduced a test-optional policy for a 3-year period. Their admissions committee plans to take a more holistic approach, evaluating students’ academic and extracurricular accomplishments without scores. The University System of Georgia, comprising 26 public colleges and universities in the state, is also not requiring the ACT/SAT for applicants who meet other admissions requirements. Talk to your counselor about whether test-optional schools are a good fit for you.

For now, we recommend that ACT students register for the June ACT with July and September as back-ups. SAT students register for the June SAT with August and October as back-ups. For international students planning to take the SAT, August is the next available date, but it’s possible other dates could be added. If the College Board and ACT release new make-up dates, register for those right away.

Check out the latest news and advice on what to do if your ACT or SAT has been cancelled, rescheduled, or modified due to coronavirus. 

Here’s a more in-depth look at how college admissions policies are changing in response to the coronavirus.


What if I can’t fit in SAT Subject Tests before application deadlines?

The list of universities recommending SAT Subject Tests is already short, and schools have been responding with flexibility here, too. Harvard has announced that applicants who do not submit Subject Test scores will not be disadvantaged. MIT, the last school to have formally required Subject Tests, not only dropped them but noted that Subject Test scores won’t even be considered if students submit them.

What does this mean for you? In short, you might be fine without Subject Tests. We recommend that students who have been planning on taking Subject Tests ask their counselors if they should continue to pursue those exams. If so, June is likely your best option: the content will be fresh in your mind while you’re currently enrolled in relevant classes. Prepare and register for June with August as a backup. If the College Board releases May make-up dates, register for them right away.

Check out the latest news and advice on what to do if your Subject Test has been cancelled, rescheduled, or modified due to coronavirus. 

Here’s a more in-depth look at how college admissions policies are changing in response to the coronavirus.


This is stressful! How can I deal with the uncertainty and anxiety I’m feeling about these test cancellations and the upcoming admissions cycle?

Everyone is working hard to make exams and college admissions happen! This is not the first time an international crisis has affected an admissions cycle. While it is certainly of unprecedented scale, we have every reason to believe universities will work with students the same way they have in past crises.

Structure can be helpful during times of irregularity, so it’s a good idea to stick to a consistent test prep routine for now. Best case scenario: you’ll be ready to reach your goals on the June exam. Worst case scenario: you’ll continue building your skills and be in an even better position to perform your best when the next test date is announced.

In the meantime, take care of yourself as best as you can. Talk to your family and friends about how you’re feeling. Sleep, eat, and stay hydrated. Give yourself breaks to unwind, clear your head, and do something you enjoy. Be kind to yourself!

The uncertainty surrounding the ACT, SAT, and Subject Tests is challenging, and it can be tough to make plans and stay motivated when information is rapidly changing. But you’re not in it alone. Focus on one step at a time, concentrating on what you can control, and reach out for support when you need it.


Need more individualized advice?

If you have specific questions or want a personalized plan, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

Looking for more resources on coronavirus, education, and testing? See our entire library here.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.