SAT's COVID-19 safety measures: masks required for summer & fall tests

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The College Board has announced health and safety measures for the upcoming summer and fall SAT administrations. Notably, all students and staff will be required to wear masks for the duration of test day.

The announcement comes days after it was reported that two students tested positive for COVID-19 following the July ACT. While ACT recommended—but did not require—that students wear masks, some students described seeing many without masks and not maintaining six feet of distance from each other, raising concerns about the safety of in-person testing.

New healthy & safety guidelines

The August exam will be the first SAT administration offered in several months, and test centers will make individual decisions about whether to cancel or move forward with the exam as test day approaches.

Perhaps learning from ACT’s problems, the College Board has published stricter safety guidelines for the upcoming testing season.

Here’s what the College Board is requiring for all upcoming weekend SAT administrations:

  • All students and staff are required to wear a mask or protective face covering for the entire duration of test day. Students who do not wear masks the entire time will be dismissed from the test center.
    • Note: students must bring their own mask or protective face covering, and the College Board recommends having an extra on hand.
  • All students and staff are required to remain at least six feet apart during the exam.
  • Students will respond to a series of health and wellness statements as part of the check-in process. If a student does not confirm all of the following statements (or refuses to answer), they will not be permitted to enter the test center.
    • In the past 14 days, I have not come into close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who has tested positive for covid-19 test or is presumed to have covid-19.
    • I do not have covid-19 or have reason to believe I have covid-19. Symptoms of covid-19 include cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
    • To my knowledge, I am not violating any travel restrictions or quarantining requirements.
    • I agree to wear a mask the entire time I'm at this test center and follow instructions from test center staff, otherwise I will be dismissed.
    • We have taken measures to help create a safe testing environment; however, it isn't possible to entirely remove the risk of covid-19 exposure. By entering the testing room, you're accepting that risk.

Furthermore, the College Board has shared the following recommended precautions from the CDC:

  • Requiring gloves, hand sanitizer, or other personal protective equipment.
  • Posting signs in visible locations to promote protective measures.
  • Encouraging students and staff to practice regular handwashing.

For further information about a specific test center’s policies, you can visit their website or call them directly. The College Board has asked test centers to make sure their specific safety guidelines are posted prominently on their websites.

Read the College Board's full announcement here.

Practice tests

Along with sharing the latest safety guidelines on Friday, the College Board tweeted, “We recommend students take a practice test ahead of test day wearing a mask to prepare for the test day experience.”

Wearing a mask while taking your next practice test is a great way to simulate test-day conditions and ensure you'll be in the right mindset to perform your best on test day. Remember, it's best to space out your practice tests so that you have enough time to reflect on your performance, make adjustments, and master additional content between exams.

What comes next

The latest update to the College Board's testing guidelines is another step toward finding ways to administer in-person exams more safely. In June, the College Board announced that the at-home version of the SAT—originally planned for the fall if schools do not reopen—would be delayed due to concerns that not all students have the necessary access to uninterrupted, video-quality internet. This decision made it even more critical that the College Board and individual test centers figure out how to safely move forward with in-person testing.

In addition to getting ready to follow the latest safety policies on test day, students should continue to prepare themselves for the possibility of last-minute changes. There may continue to be uncertainty surrounding the upcoming test dates, and students should regularly check their email, the College Board website and Twitter account, and individual test centers' websites in the days leading up to their exams. We also recommend calling your test center directly a few days prior to your exam in order to confirm that it plans to remain open.


Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions or you would like help developing a personalized plan, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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