Do international students have to take the SAT in 2020 to get into US universities?
A growing number of US colleges and universities are dropping the SAT score requirement for domestic and international students as plans for at-home tests are scrapped.
A statement by the University of Illinois reads, “With the coronavirus pandemic making it harder to take standardised tests, the University of Illinois may drop its admissions requirement of an ACT or SAT score for the fall semester of 2021.” The “one-time waiver” could happen after the academic senate considers it.
The SAT is usually taken with a sharpened no.2 pencil and paper in a highly secure test centre, on dates meticulously planned and watched by proctors. With the coronavirus outbreak, mandating social distancing, this became close to impossible.
College Board — the organization that oversees the standardized test used for college admissions —later announced it was ready to offer a digital version of the SAT. This was later scrapped due to technological reasons.
It acknowledged that lower-income students are already at a disadvantage when it comes to standardised tests and said, “Taking it would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all.” The move by the University of Illinois follows many Ivy League institutions that have announced they are going test-optional this year.
Harvard’s website states, “We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds, and we believe this temporary change addresses these challenges.” A list compiled by nonprofit group National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest) shows more than 1,250 accredited four-year colleges and universities that are “test-optional,” “test flexible” or otherwise de-emphasise the use of standardized tests. The University of California system — the most comprehensive and advanced postsecondary educational system in the world — is part of this list. The pandemic accelerated this movement, with more colleges and universities announcing that testing requirements will be suspended for 2020/21. The Washington Post reported that some universities have said that they will not be requiring tests for a few years to carry out an experiment on whether the admissions process can do without the test.
What does this mean for international applicants?
For international students planning to study in the US from next year onwards, submitting SAT scores would likely not be a mandatory application requirement. Your application, however, may need other supporting documents to prove your academic standing such as your national exam scores. You may also be required to take a foundation programme such as the American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) or IB (International Baccalaureate), depending on which country you’re from.
For those who have already taken the SAT test prior to the pandemic, don’t worry as you can still submit your scores to be evaluated as part of your application. Be sure to pay close attention to other aspects of your application such as your TOEFL scores, application essay, and supporting documents to boost your chances of getting into your US University of choice.