How college admissions and test scores are changing due to the pandemic

Makayla Voris

Although the pandemic has brought uncertainty on everyone, high-school seniors are catching the brunt of its effects. For almost three months, testing sites around the country were closed due to COVID-19, preventing seniors from getting a jump-start on the SAT and ACT tests required to apply for college. Of course, many colleges and universities have altered their admissions requirements to keep up with this, but there is still much uncertainty as to what sort of study help is available to students studying for these types of tests. 

“ACT prep is only offered as a credit-bearing course during 2nd semester this year. There is a no-credit, self-paced, online course that I designed and opened up to upperclassmen. Several students have chosen to take advantage of that opportunity,” said Ms. Vilasana, an ACT-prep class teacher. 

Before and during the pandemic, these classes have proved to help many students achieve the scores that they need to get into college, but what happens when the admissions requirements change? 

“They all want you to have a good GPA and ACT/SAT score, but because of COVID a lot of schools make ACT/SAT reports optional,” said Ema Higgins, a senior. 

Rachel Eaton, also a senior, added, “…I know Mizzou especially looks for high ACT scores, so that can be problematic.” 

Colleges around Columbia such as Stephens College, University of Missouri, and Columbia college have all altered their admissions requirements in one way or another to aid students during this difficult time. Columbia College has made ACT/SAT scores optional, MU will start superscoring ACT/SAT scores during the fall of 2021, and Stephen’s College has made ACT/SAT test scores optional for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Even with this in mind, many students are beginning to feel the psychological effects of taking this test while only attending virtual school for nearly five months. 

“Taking care of our mental health has never been more important. The psychological aspect of the test, managing the pressure, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed are typically struggles for many BHS students taking the ACT,” said Vilasana. 

Vilasana went on to recommend focusing preparation at scheduled times during the day, studying in small doses on a frequent basis, brushing up on core skills in English and Math, reading for at least twenty minutes a day, and taking the tests multiple times. Retaking college admissions tests over and over is a sure-fire way to improve your score, get a better idea of how each test is structured, and make sure that colleges find your highest score. 

“I’ve taken the PreACT once, ACT three times and the PSAT once,” said Higgins. 

Eaton said, “I have taken the ACT twice now.” 

If you would like more information about ACT or SAT testing options, visit these websites: and . If you would like more information on college admissions requirements for the schools mentioned in the article, click on the links below! 

University of Missouri Admissions

Columbia College Admissions

Stephens College Admissions