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Standardized Testing During the Pandemic


Due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of admissions and standardized testing is in flux.

Over 90% of selective 4-year colleges in the U. S. are now test-optional, and many private high schools are test-optional as well. Whether these policies continue or not remains largely unknown. Navigating this shifting landscape can be confusing for applicants as they wonder how submitting or not submitting test scores (SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE) will help or hinder their chance for admission.

For 32 years, Summit has been providing schools, families, and students with sane, sensible, and objective testing advice focused on the individual student.

In that spirit, we have created this page for you.  It is updated regularly, so visit often as you move through the admissions process. For additional guidance and information, I encourage you to contact us.  We’d be delighted to help.

See where you stand on these tests and decide which is better for you. We offer in-person, virtual, and self-proctored testing options. VIEW THE SCHEDULE
Watch this webinar on-demand to learn about AP classes, tests, and the new role AP tests may play in the college admissions process. VIEW ON-DEMAND
Learn tips and strategies for the college-application essay-writing process from the expert writing coaches at Hillside Writing.

Testing Updates

SAT and Subject Tests

Subject Tests and SAT Essay are Eliminated. The College Board will cease administration of SAT Subject Tests and the SAT Essay. All planned U.S. administrations for the 2020-21 testing season are canceled. Students who had already registered for the June test will receive refunds. International students will be able to take Subject Tests in May and June. Subject Tests and the Essay have been waning over the years in the changing landscape of college admissions.

Test Center Cancellations. While still in the grips of the pandemic, it’s important for families to regularly monitor the status of their test center for an upcoming SAT. We know from experience that test centers may close or make changes on short notice, including on test day (luckily, this is happening less frequently), and they may even close for the scheduled makeup date. The College Board provides updates on SAT capacities by region, test center safety requirements, what to do if your test gets canceled, and more on its website. Contact your Summit program director for advice specific to your student.

Read more on The College Board’s Coronavirus Updates


ACT Test Center Cancellations. Students may find that there is limited capacity at ACT test centers due to public health restrictions. To increase capacity, ACT has added “pop up” test centers at non-traditional sites such as hotels. It has permitted schools to offer school day testing and colleges to administer the ACT to prospective or admitted students for use at their individual campus. ACT maintains a list of test center closures on its website.

“Should I take the ACT Writing Essay, now that the SAT Essay is being eliminated?” We recommend that students not worry about taking the ACT with Writing.

ACT has also said it’s targeting winter/spring 2021 to launch an online, at-home option. Read more ACT coronavirus updates


The EMA’s new online, SSAT At-Home launched in September 2020, with regular, weekly Saturday administrations. Note that there have been some technical issues resulting in test cancellations, forcing some students to reschedule.

We want to remind families about all the options available for taking the SSAT.

Read the SSAT Testing Overview on EMA website.


The ERB offers online versions of the ISEE both at home and at Prometric test centers. Please be aware that some students taking the online, at-home version of the ISEE have experienced technical difficulties, resulting in test cancellations.

We want to remind families about all the options available for taking the ISEE.

Summit’s Recommendations

For guidance and questions specific to your student, please contact us.

High School Class of 2022

Now more than ever, it’s important for juniors to have a game plan for standardized testing. With the uncertainty of test-optional policies and the pandemic, having a plan will give students a sense of control as they navigate the admissions process.

With the current school year underway, and many students having taken the fall PSAT, they should now take a practice ACT and compare ACT scores to PSAT scores in order to decide between the SAT and ACT. Students can use the PSAT as a proxy for the SAT. Students would then create a test plan with target test dates and a study schedule. You can take a free practice ACT with Summit and receive a complimentary consultation to help decide whether to pursue the SAT or ACT path.

The goal here is to get your testing plan mapped out as soon as possible. Taking practice tests is important because they give students exposure to content and difficulty of the material. Our detailed Score Reports will also indicate strengths and weaknesses, uncovering underlying areas for skill development. We offer free practice tests and many ways to take them. Please contact a Summit program director for help and questions about crafting your test plan.

Both the SAT and ACT are curriculum-based tests and a student’s performance correlates with age, maturity, and time spent in school. Students generally reach their peak score in spring of junior year or early fall of senior year.

We have always advised students to plan on taking the test 2 or even 3 times. That advice is perhaps even more important now than ever before. If, for instance, your first test date is canceled, you’ll feel better knowing you have later options to test.

Test prep planning is a highly individualized process and no two plans are exactly alike. Read this article for some general guidelines for students who will want to consider testing sooner, rather than later.

High School Class of 2023

College test preparation for sophomores.

PSAT NMSQTWhile it’s too early for 10th graders to start test prep for college, it’s not too early for students and families to spend a small amount of time formulating a future testing plan. We recommend that students schedule their first practice tests for later in the spring or during the summer months leading up to junior year.

Read Summit’s recommendations for what parents and students can do during sophomore year to anticipate and plan for SAT or ACT and other tests for college.

Remember, though, that school grades and course rigor are the most important performance measurement for college admission decisions. If you find that your sophomore is struggling academically, our academic support services and AP tutoring can help.

The State of Test-Optional Admissions

Most high school students take the SAT or ACT during the spring of junior year.

With the ongoing pandemic, many class of 2022 students are wondering whether they should take the standardized tests for college.   [read more …]

2020-2021 Test Dates (remaining)

NOTE: Due to the pandemic, The College Board and ACT are allowing some administrations of the tests during the school day. Check with your school’s counseling office to find out if your state, school district, or school is offering school day testing.

SAT & Subject Test Dates ACT Dates
March 3, 2021 (School Day Test) March 2, 2021 (District Test Day)
March 13, 2021 March 30, 2021 (District Test Day)
March 24, 2021 (School Day Test) April 17, 2021
April 13, 2021 (School Day Test) June 12, 2021
April 27, 2021 (School Day Test) July 17, 2021
May 8, 2021
June 5, 2021

2021-2022 Test Dates (anticipated)

These dates are estimates based on test dates from past years. The testing companies usually wait until a few months before the start of the testing season before publishing dates and deadlines. Always check the test administrators’ website.

SAT & Subject Test Dates ACT Dates
August 28, 2021 September 11, 2021
October 2, 2021 October 23, 2021
November 6, 2021 December 11, 2021
December 4, 2021 February 5, 2022
March 12, 2022 April 9, 2022
May 7, 2022 June 11, 2022
June 4, 2022 July 16, 2022

Questions or comments? Please share them in the comment box below or contact your local Summit office.

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Ready to take a free proctored practice test? We offer several ways to take the test. Learn more and view our upcoming schedule of free practice tests.

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