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This Week in COVID-19: Test Dates! Get Your Test Dates Here!

The ACT has followed up on its announcement about the postponement of section-specific retesting by handing out new fall test dates the way Oprah gives out free cars: indiscriminately and at a genuinely impressive clip.

In a statement on its news blog, the organization announced the addition of three new test dates for the fall of 2020, while simultaneously opening non-Saturday testing (previously only available to students whose religious commitments prevent them from testing on Saturdays) up to all students for September and October. The combination of these two changes brings the grand total of national ACT administrations over the remainder of 2020 to eight, with the revised testing schedule now looking like this:

September

  • Saturday, September 12 (existing)
  • Sunday, September 13 (non-Saturday, existing)
  • Saturday, September 19 (new)

October

  • Saturday, October 10 (new)
  • Saturday, October 17 (new)
  • Saturday, October 24 (existing)
  • Sunday, October 25 (non-Saturday, existing)

December

  • Saturday, December 12 (existing)

First and foremost, this is an unequivocally positive thing for students who are concerned about their ability to raise their scores, or even to get scores at all, before college application deadlines. There are a couple of caveats that parents and students should be aware of, however.

1) These test dates have only been added for domestic students. There is no mention of international students in the ACT’s announcement, and as of writing, the ACT’s page for non-US students still lists only the pre-existing September, October, and December dates.

2) It remains to be seen how many (and which) of these test dates will be offered in each area. It’s unclear from the ACT’s announcement exactly how much buy-in for the new dates they’ve received from the people who have to, you know, actually administer these tests. From a quote by CEO Janet Godwin:

“We recognize this decision, while helpful to students in need of scores, asks our test center administrators and their staff to give more of their already limited time over several weekends… We encourage them to do what is best for themselves and their communities in terms of commitments to opening up test centers in their areas.” 

Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence. The statement goes on to say that the ACT “will be contacting test centers about their ability to add test dates in the coming weeks”. Even if a test center does commit to offering the test on all of the new dates, though, I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I didn’t point out that everybody’s favorite global pandemic has spent the past few months repeatedly throwing a wrench into plans.

Unfortunately, the only thing that students can really do is register for the tests offered in their area and hope. Registration for all 2020-2021 test dates opens the last week of July, and it seems very likely that there will be considerable demand, particularly for the earlier dates. Students can sign up to get an email alert when registration is about to open, and we recommend that everyone planning to test in the fall check test-center availability in their area early and often.

That’s what I’ve got for you today. As always, stay safe and stay healthy.

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