COVID-19 pushes SAT sites to close

Many SAT testing centers have cancelled exams due to health risks and local COVID-19 guidelines, instead opting to move testing dates back. The shortage of SAT seats has led most colleges to go test optional, and some even fully test-blind, this year. 

However, many students are still taking the exam–some to put their abilities to the test and others to boost their admissions chances to colleges that are not completely factoring out standardized tests. In pursuit of these goals, several Diamond Bar High School students opted to take the SAT test in other states. 

“Ideally, I wanted to take the SAT back in August in-state,” junior Alyssa Wu said via Instagram. “I realized that as the months flew by, it would become only more difficult to get a spot in a local test center. And that’s why my family and I decided to sign up for SATs out-of state.”

Junior Han Lee has also faced similar problems, having signed up for several in-state tests that were all subsequently canceled, before deciding to take more drastic measures. 

“I signed up about three times before deciding to go out of state,” Lee said via Instagram. “I signed up for the SATs by looking up the schools in Arizona and putting in their zip code.”

Despite the vast majority of colleges opting not to require standardized tests like the ACT and SAT this year, and some in the future as well, many students still hope to take the tests for various reasons. 

“I wanted to do the SAT because privates still take SAT and my end goal is to make it to a private school,” Lee said. 

However, signing up for exams out of state has led many to other problems, especially due to COVID-19 restrictions and regulations. 

“Compared to the quick and easy sign-up and test-taking process many months before, this new process has been made quite a bit harder due to the presence of COVID-19,” Wu said. “ We try to avoid the possibility of boarding an airplane to a very far state, since doing so will undoubtedly increase the chances of coming into contact with the virus.”

Traveling to other states to take the exam has also become a major health concern for students, as the pandemic has impacted each region differently. In addition, there’s a looming possibility that out-of-state exams will also be canceled, which makes travel difficult from a planning standpoint as well.

“Looking for patterns and information like this definitely made the process of signing up quite hard,” Wu said. “When cancellations would disrupt the final step, which was to travel to the location in order to complete the test, it was always frustrating.”

Even though it’s no longer required and quite the challenge, GLCs are still recommending students to take the standardized test, due to the various advantages it might present students.

“Some universities may use SAT or ACT scores for class placement purposes,” class of 2021 GLC Kevin Patterson said via email.  “Upon enrollment at a university, a student’s SAT or ACT score may be used for class placement purposes.”