College Board: SAT/ACT Test Center Closures


Photo by Bluestocking

A student completes a multiple choice exam.

Shylee Saladi and Gemma Fink, Managing Editor of Production and Staff Writer

First came the numerous test cancellations in the spring of 2020, which has continued to downsize the few test centers that are still available. Numerous colleges have gone test optional due to the limited availability of the SAT and ACT, meaning that it is no longer required to submit standardized testing scores with an application. Beginning with the class of 2021, future college applicants have the option of whether or not to submit their standardized test scores. Many colleges have said that they will keep their application test optional at least until the class of 2022 graduates. This is a complete change from years past, when only a couple schools were test optional. These schools included Bates, Colorado College, College of Holy Cross, and only a few more. 

Even though there are testing centers available, the number of test dates are limited to once a month, and the number of seats available vary from center to center. Each testing center can only accommodate a certain number of students. Once that capacity is reached, the center may only allow a few more people to register in the case of a cancellation.

Despite the College Board allotting makeup test dates for those whose tests were cancelled, the number of students that weren’t able to take the SAT outweigh the availability of testing center seats. This is due to many test centers being forced to downsize in order to accommodate a safe environment to take the SAT with the COVID-19 regulations. “My test center didn’t completely close, but it did down size to allow half of the registered people in,” said Emily Schroeder ‘22, a student whose March 13th SAT test was cancelled. Schroeder mentioned that she believes her test cancellation was due to the fact that she had already taken the SAT in the previous November. 

Social distancing measures have greatly reduced the number of students allowed in a room while taking the test. Those with accommodations are even more likely to have a cancelled test due to restraints on the number of people allowed in any given testing room.

There has been an alarming amount of students that haven’t been able to take the SAT more than once or have had their test cancelled on the test day or beforehand. The ACT website has listed that there have been around 500 test center closures around the country.

If the College Board does decide to close or downsize the number of students allowed in a testing center, it should be made clear before the day of the test. In order to show that the test is cancelled, there should be a big and clear “cancelled” mark by the test registration within the College Board account. It shouldn’t be difficult for students who are taking the test to figure out that their test is cancelled since this test is one of the more important tests that they take before college. Students need to be explicitly informed of their test’s cancellation.

When discussing communication of the cancellation itself, Schroeder said, “To make sure [that the test was cancelled], I went to the College board website and didn’t see any registration for March — even though I knew I signed up. It would’ve made sense if next to the registration it said cancelled, but the website just erased all history of me ever registering.”

Especially considering the limited amount of local seats, many students are being forced to take their tests in distant locations. Unclear, day-of-test cancellations make it difficult for students to plan ahead and reschedule their tests. 

Many students wish to include their SAT scores on their college applications, but due to the lack of testing availability, students are not able to apply with the SAT or ACT score that they would like to. It is very challenging for students to have spent time preparing for the test, only to not be able to take it.

Due to the fact that not many high schools are doing in-person learning, test center closures have been rising. Many students are lucky to take it only once this year. COVID has caused many students to scramble quickly to secure a spot in a local testing center.  Some students have only been able to take the SAT or ACT at locations over an hour away.

Many test centers have not let the students know of the test centers closure but waited until the day of to let them know that the test center is closed. “I didn’t actually know my test was canceled until my mom told me she got a refund from the College Board,” Schroeder mentioned.  Students show up at test centers just to find out they are closed. Although students may not “walk into” test centers, they can move their registration to another testing site. 

As the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming increasingly available to teachers and adults, the more safe testing centers there will be, and the more they will be able to fit in additional students.