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Preparing for the ACT/SAT in Fall 2020

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By Stephan Nazarian

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered our daily activities, and finding information about the practical impact on so many areas of our lives can be challenging. With many students currently preparing for an all-virtual or hybrid school year, they may be unsure what other aspects of school may be changed because of the pandemic. For those graduating high school in 2021, Thinking Organized is happy to offer some information about COVID-19’s impact on the SAT and the ACT and how students can begin their preparation for the big day.

To effectively prepare for either standardized exam, students should first take a full-length practice test, which can be found for free on the SAT and ACT websites. From there, they should assess their strengths and weaknesses in each of the content areas tested on the exam by comparing their performances on each question type. For example, if a student does very well on systems of equations but very poorly on quadratics, he should focus his study time on the latter. In addition to reviewing specific content areas and completing practice problems, students should also aim to improve their stamina and strategic thinking skills. The SAT and the ACT are both lengthy examinations that require students to concentrate for long periods of time, which can be particularly challenging for those with ADHD. As test day approaches, students should practice working for longer periods and taking full-length tests to build up their ability to sustain their attention for the entire length of the exam. 

If you’re unsure whether your children are prepared for the SAT or ACT, Thinking Organized is here to help! Our SAT/ACT Prep program is designed specifically for students who struggle with ADHD and executive function weaknesses, as these students learn differently and require specific structures to thrive. In this multi-week program, our mentors will help your children identify their strengths and weaknesses, provide them with the instruction and practice required to improve content knowledge, and teach them strategies that will allow them to maximize their performance on test day. 

ACT for Fall 2020 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACT has expanded their available testing dates for fall 2020:

Test DateRegistration Deadline
September 12August 14
September 13August 14
September 20August 14
October 10September 17
October 17September 17
October 24September 17
October 25September 17
December 12November 6
February 6January 8
April 17March 12
June 12May 7
July 17June 18

Beginning with the September 12th administration, the ACT will resume in-person testing at many of the same centers that they have traditionally used while offering additional test dates to accommodate social distancing. Students will be more spaced out, and PPE – including masks and gloves – will be allowed but not provided. Students will also be asked a series of questions to determine whether they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms; any student who appears to have the virus will be asked to leave and allowed to reschedule their testing date at no cost. For those who feel uncomfortable sending their child to a school for in-person administration of the exam, the ACT has announced plans to offer in-home administration of the test. Check out the ACT’s website for more resources related to COVID-19.

SAT for Fall 2020

Much like the ACT, the SAT will soon resume in-person administration of the test, though it will be offered once per month for most of the fall and winter. Those administrations are contingent on the educational institutions the SAT partners with allowing testing to move forward at current capacity. The current dates offered for the SAT are as follows:

Test DateRegistration Deadline
September 26August 26
October 3September 4
November 7October 7
December 5November 5
March 13February 12
May 8April 8
June 5May 6

The SAT will require a face mask or covering and will ensure that students are seated at least six feet apart. Additionally, the SAT has relaxed the restrictions placed on their educational partners, including allowing flexible start times and off-site administrations to ensure that proper social distancing is enforced. Unlike the ACT, the SAT does not currently have any plans to offer testing administration outside of their current partner institutions.

In light of the difficulties and potential safety issues for so many families in taking a standardized test this fall, many colleges and universities have dropped the SAT/ACT requirement for fall 2021 admission. A list of institutions that have dropped the SAT/ACT requirement can be found here.

Erica MechlinskiPreparing for the ACT/SAT in Fall 2020

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