How Covid-19 Will Affect College Admissions, AP Exams, and SATs


The coronavirus has greatly affected many aspects of our daily lives, and students, particularly high-schoolers, are facing many different challenges. Seniors are missing the last few months of their high school careers along with their school proms, graduations, and award ceremonies. The fall semesters of colleges and all schools in general is a bit of an unknown at the moment, and not only are seniors feeling this pressure but juniors are, too. What will college admissions look like in the fall? How will covid-19 affect the application process or students’ abilities to meet the same high standards? The College Board and certain universities have tried to answer some of these questions to the best of their abilities.

AP Exams

The College Board surveyed thousands of AP students to gage whether or not they still wanted the opportunity to take the exams this year, and because the answer was “yes,” the company has put together 45-minute online exams for each AP course. To provide all students with equal opportunity despite the fact that schools across the country closed at different points in time, each exam will only include content which classes have covered by early March.

The exams will be given from May 11 to May 22, and the make-up exams are scheduled from June 1 to June 5. Each AP class’s exam will be given at the same time all over the world. The exams themselves will be open-book and only consist of one or two free-response questions, depending on the course (excluding a few select courses, such as AP Art and Design). Students will be able to take the tests on any device they have access to at home and can either type and upload their responses or hand write and submit an image via cell phone. 

The College Board offers an abundance of resources to help students feel prepared for the exam, including the 2020 AP Testing Guide, Getting Ready for Exam Day, Course-Specific Exam Information, the Exam Day Experience Demo, and Extra-Help Exam Videos. In addition, testing accommodations will still be provided to students who have been approved for them. 

Ultimately, the College Board is confident that most colleges will continue to reward credit and/or placement as they have done in the past, which is important to the students who have worked tirelessly in their classes since September 2019 to prepare for the exams. For students who are counting on the credit awarded by universities for high AP Exam scores to pay for college tuition, this opportunity is everything.


The College Board has offered little information about the SATs at the moment, as the AP Exams took precedence, but the plan is to provide SAT administrations every month beginning in August until the end of the year if it is safe to do so. Students will be able to register for these dates at the end of May, and those who were previously registered for the June SAT or those who are juniors graduating in 2021 who have not yet taken the SAT will have the first available seats.

College Admissions

College admissions in the fall will have to change to support applicants post-pandemic, especially surrounding test-taking requirements. More colleges, including Harvard and Cornell, are waiving SAT and ACT requirements for 2021 applicants due to high school closings and teaching remotely for the remainder of the academic year along with cancelled testing dates. This will ease the financial and emotional stress of many high school students and their families as the fall approaches. Another measure colleges are taking to help students feel supported is by offering virtual tours (for universities that didn’t offer them already) of their campuses to replace the college tours that students would normally participate in during spring break or the summer. The New York Times published an article giving students advice on how to choose colleges with virtual tours. Colleges are doing all they can to keep students safe while providing them with the opportunities they deserve!

Final Thoughts

The College Board and universities across the country are doing the best they can to give students all of the opportunities they would be provided with under normal circumstances. No system is going to be perfect due to recent world events, but at the moment, everyone is working with the resources they have within the limits this pandemic has placed on us. Hopefully, students, parents, educators, and school systems will receive more information on testing options and college admissions changes as time goes on, but for now, we will just have to accept the information we’ve been given and ride out this storm.