SAT Contingency Plan For Fall/Winter 2020

SAT Contingency Plan:


First, some of my students have told me that their SAT testing centers have been closed. So, please login to your College Board account and check to make sure that your testing centers are still available. 

If you’re a senior graduating in the class of 2021, please keep in mind a few things. First, the SAT will likely be offered at least monthly all the way through the spring of 2021. Second, colleges are likely going to extend application deadlines and still allow SAT scores to be submitted later than usual. They recognize that there are bottlenecks in the system due to Covid. 

Please keep this in mind. It ought to help offset SAT and college application anxiety. 

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Your SAT Contingency Plan

So, in order to make sure you’re going to have a testing center for your upcoming SAT dates, sign up for the next 2 SAT dates that you can. For your first one, sign up at the nearest testing center you can find. For a lot of students locally that’s Fountain Valley High School. 

However, for the second testing date for the month after, select a school other than Fountain Valley High School. You want to do this so that even if FVHS is closed, your second testing site at a different location might still be available.

One of my students has both of her upcoming tests at Fountain Valley High School. I recommend against this because if Fountain Valley closes their site for the SAT, she’s not going to be able to take the test until something like December or January.

SAT Contingency Plan: Registering At Multiple SAT testing Sites

Basically, you want to spread your risk. I’d even recommend – if you’re motivated – that you sign up for 3 SATs. One at your first choice location, the next the month after at a second location, and the third at yet another location. 

By the way, my guess would be that larger facilities would have a greater likelihood of remaining open. As they get things squared away, they will remember the emergency doctrine about airborne epidemics: medical experts and scientists have hypothesized that there is reduced transmission if an indoor facility is at about 30% capacity. So, for a school that would usually have 30 students per classroom pre-2020, it would be deemed safe enough if they put 10 students into each classroom. 

For a larger facility, they could spread out 500 students taking the test into 50 different classrooms. This would be possible at a larger facility with more classrooms available. Basically, the ideal situation nearby would be UC Irvine, if they’re still allowed to use their buildings as an SAT site.

Obviously this would require more work on the part of the proctors, but it would be a feasible solution. Students get to take the SAT this fall/winter, and they can do so in safer testing sites.

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Closing Thoughts 

Please keep all of this in mind as you plan your upcoming SATs. This applies especially for the class of 2021. Naturally, the College Board, the SAT parent company, still wants to be able to keep the SAT relevant. For this reason they’re asking college admissions offices to accept later test scores. 

While a lot of schools are going test optional, most are still accepting the SAT. And, a lot of the more competitive ones are still requiring SATs. That way they can compare kids from different high schools around the country on a standardized scale. 

Who knows what will happen with the SAT in the future? It’s just that it’s the dominant test that we have right now for admission into competitive colleges.

May you do well in your SAT planning, preparation, and performance. 

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By Martin

Martin McSweeney is a National Merit Finalist, Pomona College Graduate, and member of MENSA. He has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (Loyola Marymount University campus); Upward Bound (Harvey Mudd campus); various test prep companies; and Whittier High School. Now, Martin helps students of all abilities improve their relationship with math.