Illinois' High School Seniors Struggle to Schedule Tests Amid Pandemic

NBC Local News

Illinois’ incoming high school seniors have been struggling to register for standardized testing ahead of college application season after the pandemic caused testing dates to be canceled.

Students weren’t able to take the SAT at schools in April, and ACT tests in the spring and summer were canceled after sites closed, the Chicago Tribune reported.

ACT executive Shane King said the company relies on schools for testing sites, but shutdowns made that impossible. He also can’t guarantee that locations booked for September and October won’t be canceled.

Clay Lindner is one senior who secured a spot to take the ACT. But like some, he was assigned to a site in other state. He registered to take the test in Chicago but was transferred to a site in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

ACT officials said location changes were due to a computer bug that has been fixed. But Lindner didn’t want to risk it, so he grabbed a spot in Louisville, Kentucky, near homes of extended family members.

“We’re very privileged to be able to do test prep, to drive six hours or more just to take a test and stay with family. But for a lot of families that don’t have that, what are they going to do?”

The SAT, the ACT’s main competitor, tried a different approach. The College Board, which administers the exam, allowed seniors to sign up early for tests that will resume Aug. 29.

Some students said they were able to register for an SAT test after they couldn’t land a spot for ACT testing.

Evanston senior Josie Hansen was offered a spot in Michigan to take the ACT after two previous testing cancellations. But she decided to take the SAT in nearby Wilmette instead.

“From what I’ve heard the test is pretty much the same; the timing is just different,” she said. “I hope (the studying) won’t all go to waste. We’ll see.”

Meanwhile, about 350 colleges have made assertions since the start of the outbreak that standardized test scores will be optional this year. But parents and students are not convinced that the lack of a good score will be a disadvantage at a competitive school.

“(Colleges) clearly look at everything you send them,” said David Eide, a suburban dad whose son managed to get a seat for the ACT. “If you’re able to submit test scores, it’s in your benefit to do that.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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