ACT testing: Adaptations to COVID-19

Photo+by+Chloe+Clinton

Photo by Chloe Clinton

Julia Miller (ESF), Co-Editor-in-Chief

In the midst of the uncertainty and hardship plaguing 2020, colleges, scholarships and students redefine their relationship with the ACT.

Assessing students’ math, reading, English, and science skills, the American College Testing (ACT) has commonly been a deciding factor in applications for colleges and scholarships. However, COVID-19 has prompted a number of changes in how colleges, scholarships—and even the ACT administration itself—perceive the ACT.

Now, many colleges are opting to remove this well-known staple from their applications. Even a number of Ivy League universities, infamous for their high test score expectations, have adjusted to become “test optional,” meaning that they do not require ACT or other test scores. This test-optional approach not only exempts students who are unable to attend a testing center but also removes the pressing need for all college-bound students to take the national examination. 

“I think it’s a really good decision for colleges not to require ACT scores because not every student had a chance to take the test because of COVID, and I think that it would be unfair to cheat out an entire grade of students of the college experience because of something they couldn’t control,” senior Cale Hinman, a non-test taker, said.

This test-optional optional decision is not the only major change this year. This year, another notable change is the addition of new collegiate scholarships. In a typical year, scholarships at colleges such as Oklahoma State University (OSU) or the University of Oklahoma (OU) require a score from the ACT or Scholastic Assessment test. This year, OSU, OU and other universities have decided to implement merit scholarships based strictly on students’ grade point averages (GPAs). Now, students with high GPAs (3.25 or higher at OSU) can receive funding on account of their overall achievement in high school rather than their achievement on a single exam.

“I support the idea of scholarships being based on a student’s GPA and overall achievement instead of just being based on a single ACT score because it [high school achievement] shows more than a single test score—and some people aren’t good at tests but have amazing grades,” sophomore Karen George said.

Despite students’ hopes that a range of scholarships will adopt this idea, a vast number of scholarship programs, especially national, statewide or highly competitive scholarships like the Oklahoma State Regents Academic Scholarship, have maintained their ACT requirements; thus, students eager to widen their scholarship opportunities must register for the exam, even if their intended college does not ask for a test score. 

Recognizing the existent need for students to provide ACT scores to scholarships, the ACT administration has provided students with increased flexibility. The ACT has created additional testing dates and removed late fees to ensure that students have the opportunity to test at their local testing center.

Coming dates for the exam are December 12, February 6 and April 17. Students interested in registering for the exam can sign up on the ACT website.

For more information on ACT testing, contact Julia Miller at [email protected]