Live Updates: Effects of COVID-19 on Standardized Testing

Live Updates: Effects of COVID-19 on Standardized Testing

Rachel on February 19, 2021

Magoosh will update this post as more information becomes available.
Latest update: April 19, 2021

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, it has already impacted nearly all of our professional and personal plans.

To slow the spread of this pandemic, it is vital that we follow CDC guidelines and best practices. These include social distancing, which involves increasing the physical distance between people to a minimum of six feet.

This recommendation has led to the cancellation of many public events—including the administration of standardized tests.

So what should you do if you have a test coming up?


Table of Contents


Understanding the Effects of COVID-19 on Your Test

If you and your loved ones are doing well—and we certainly hope that this is the case—this might be a good time for you to fit in some extra studying. But don’t feel bad if you’re not in the position to do so right now—it’s important to take care of your physical and mental well-being first.

If you’re wondering what to do about the logistics of your exam, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Was it canceled? If it was:
    • How do you get a refund?
    • How do you reschedule?
    • Can you take it at home?
  2. Was it postponed? If it was:
    • How do you reschedule?
  3. How does this affect application deadlines for college and grad school?

What is the status of your exam? Official Test-Maker Responses

  • To find out the latest on exam-wide cancellations and postponements, check the test-maker’s official response on their website:
  • To learn more about your already scheduled test, reach out to your testing center (if applicable).
  • To learn more about application deadlines and decision dates, reach out directly to university admissions departments (expect delayed responses).

What We Currently Know

College Admissions + SAT/ACT + AP Exams Updates

College Admissions Updates

The National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) created the College Admission Status Update, a database of colleges that changed their admission process due to COVID-19. Search by institution name for updates.

At the height of the pandemic, droves of colleges have announced changes in their testing policy to test-optional and several continue to do so. While this mostly applied to fall 2021 applicants, many colleges plan to make this change permanent. The University of California system continues to make a splash as it relates to standardized testing—first by announcing plans to phase out the use of SAT/ACT for admissions decisions by 2024 and then by receiving a court-ordered mandate barring the UC system from using test scores at all.

As college admissions policies continue to evolve, make sure to refer to the websites of specific schools for the latest information.

>> Watch & Read: Test-Optional Colleges: What You Need to Know


The College Board is providing the following weekend SAT exams for spring 2021:

  • May 8
  • June 5

Students and test centers will be expected to adhere to health guidelines, including wearing a mask, socially distanced seating, and answering a health questionnaire. Many test centers will have limited seating and may experience unexpected closures up until test day, so be prepared to check College Board’s test center closure page and your email often. Students who may have been banking on an at-home SAT exam—similar to the digital AP exams taken last spring—are currently out of luck. Due to feasibility concerns, the College Board has currently delayed plans for a digital, at-home SAT.

For more information, check out How to Handle SAT Test Cancelations Due to COVID-19.

In January, the College Board announced they would be discontinuing the optional SAT essay and Subject Tests:

  • The optional SAT essay will only be offered until June 2021.
  • SAT Subject Tests will only be offered to international students until June 2021.

For more on these updates, refer to this post on the latest SAT news.


For the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, the ACT will be administered:

  • June 12
  • July 17

The ACT was also planning an at-home option; however, they have been focused on accommodating students affected by COVID-19, and the at-home test continues to be under development.

For more information, make sure to check out the FAQ about the ACT and our post on How to Handle ACT Test Cancelations Due to COVID-19

AP Exams

In 2021, AP Exams will be administered three times in May and June, now with both in-school and at-home testing options. For certain subjects and test dates, exams have moved back to a traditional paper and pencil format instead of the digital format used in spring 2020 and will need to be taken in school.

Aside from the subjects that require paper exams, the digital format seems to be here to stay. The College Board is updating its digital exam app and requirements, and students can take the test on a computer as early as May—either at school or from home. Click here to view this year’s AP schedule.

In 2020, at-home AP Exams were administered from May 11 to 22 with makeup dates from June 1 to 5. A small minority of students were able to take the test in late June.

Although the College Board claims that at-home AP testing was a success, several students had problems submitting answers and were told they needed to take a makeup test. Students consequently filed a lawsuit to force the College Board to grade their responses for the initial test. The organization Fair Test also joined the lawsuit due to compliance issues with the Americans With Disabilities Act.


As of July 11, in Mainland China, the National Education Examinations Authority announced that the GRE General Test has resumed at a few locations.

As of June 15, GRE test centers around the world are beginning to reopen for June and July test dates (with the exception of Mainland China, where GRE testing has been suspended until June 30, 2020). Check here to see if GRE test centers near you are open and accepting appointments.

Most GRE exams, including all computer-based GRE testing done by Prometric test centers, have been suspended around the globe. Check your email and GRE account online for specific information about your exam.

You can reschedule your GRE exam free of charge IF you reschedule via live chat, email (, or phone (1-866-473-4373).If you reschedule by yourself online, you will incur a rescheduling fee (don’t do this!).

>> As of Monday, March 23rd, students can register to take the GRE General Test online at home. While this started as a temporary solution with limited availability, ETS has now made the GRE General Test at Home a permanent, widely available option. Students can now schedule tests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To find out more, check out ETS’s official GRE at Home FAQ. Note also that as of December 2020, ETS is temporarily accepting expired identification documents for those taking the GRE at Home. According to the ETS website, “ETS is temporarily accepting government-issued IDs with expiration dates from February 1, 2020, forward. All other ID policies still apply.” Also as of December 2020, the GRE at Home Test is scheduled directly through ETS’s website; previously test-takers scheduled through ProctorU, and ETS partner company. ProctorU staff still provide proctoring services for this test, even though they no longer handle booking.

Note that some programs are waiving GRE exam requirements for 2021 applicants. This isn’t widespread, so check with your specific program for updates.

>> Watch: GRE at Home: A Real Student’s Experience & Tips
>> Watch: ETS Online GRE: A Good Experience with Unexpected Surprises
>> Read: Was Your GRE Canceled? You Can Take It at Home
>> Read: A Student’s Guide to Taking the GRE Online with ProctorU
>> Read: Magoosh GRE Prep During COVID-19



The GMAT online exam will be a permanent testing option alongside the in-person GMAT. GMAC will also be rolling out these changes to the GMAT online for appointments on April 8, 2021, and onward:

  • Return of the AWA (GMAT essay) section
  • Choose your own section order (just like the in-person GMAT)
  • Two optional 8-minute breaks
  • View your unofficial score as soon as you finish

Registration for this enhanced GMAT online format will open on February 17, 2021. Exams taken before April 8, 2021, will have the current GMAT online format.

Starting September 23, 2020, at 12:01 EST, you have the option to retake the GMAT Online exam. The online exam option is also being offered until February 2021. The GMAT Online exam price is $250 USD, and rescheduling and exam cancellation fees will be reinstated at $25 and $100 USD respectively. GMAT Online exams taken on or after September 23rd will also begin counting towards your overall 12-month and lifetime GMAT attempt limits.

As of June 15, 2020, many GMAT test centers are reopening with increased safety measures in place to protect test-takers and proctors (see the updated list of open test centers by clicking here). Safety measures include the use of face masks, frequent sanitation of check-in and testing equipment, and easily accessible hand sanitizer throughout the test center.

Starting May 12, 2020, all test-takers are required to wear a face mask for the duration of the exam (with the exception of test centers in Australia and the United Kingdom). You may also wear disposable gloves if you wish. Please check your nearest test center location for rules and regulations.

All GMAT exams at US and Canadian Pearson VUE centers have been suspended until further notice. If you have a GMAT scheduled outside of the US/Canada, you can check the status of your exam here.

If your exam has been affected, it will be either rescheduled or canceled, with fees waived. You will receive notifications via email, and the organization asks that you do not try to reschedule or cancel your appointment online but instead contact customer service.

Note that some business school programs are waiving GMAT exam requirements for 2021 applicants. This isn’t widespread, so check with your specific program for updates.

>> Read: GMAT Canceled? You Can Take the GMAT Online Exam At Home
>> Watch: GMAT At Home: Real Experience and Tips
>> Read: Online GMAT Exam Experience and Tips


To help students whose test centers are closed as well as those would prefer to test from the safety of their home during the pandemic, IELTS Partners has introduced IELTS Indicator. IELTS Indicator is an online test created for students who want to take the IELTS. At this time, it is not a full substitution for the IELTS, as it is not accepted at all institutions. However, the IELTS does list the growing number of schools that accept the IELTS Inidcator wordlwide.

Check out our IELTS Blog (especially the “Read” article linked below), where we’ll update with more information about IELTS Indicator as it comes in.

IELTS has announced that testing will continue in limited locations, but more locations are opening. If you click this link for official IELTS Covid-19 upates, you will see an extensive list of areas where the exam is canceled, so be sure to check. Contact your local test center with questions. This page also links to the growing list of places where IELTS test centers have reopened, including an increasing number of locations in mainland China. Most importantly for those who do have IELTS test center access, the page I’ve linked above in this paragraph includes a list of Covid-19-related precautions you must take in order to be admitted into the test center to take your exam.

While IELTS is reopening test centers around the world, the makers of the exam are sensitive to the new dangers of in-person testing during the pandemic. Re-opened test centers have taken a number of safety and social distancing precautions. Test takers are also required to take certian safety measures, including wearing a mask and providing the IELTS test center with a health declaration. For more details, see the official IELTS website.

If your exam is not suspended, you are able to bring in and wear a mask, hands should be washed upon arrival, test report forms will be received by mail, and IELTS partners are offering free support material for affected test takers.

In addition, to address the need for home study during the pandemic, the IELTS now offers a number of home study options:

  • The IELTS has partnered with Kaplan to provide official online IELTS preparation courses for students who currently reside in the United States. And of coruse, our Magoosh IELTS courses remain available worldwide!
  • Students can now take a free IELTS Masterclass, online or in person. These 90 minute sessions allow studnetys to learn more abotu the exam and ask questions of a live IELTS instructor. Recordings of past materclasses are available online as well. For details, see the official IELTS Masterclass website.
  • The IELTS also now provides a paid practice test that can be taken online. Students who complete this test will have their results scored by actual IELTS examiners. This practice test is called the IELTS Progress Check, and it costs $49.95 USD.

>> Read:



Although test centers are continuing to reopen around the world, many TOEFL exams have been cancelled. Check both your email and your TOEFL account online for more information about your specific exam.

As of December 2020, a number of changes have been made to the TOEFL Home Edition:

  • The TOEFL Home Edition, initially created as a temporary home-based testing option for the pandemic, is now being offered permanently. According to ETS’s TOEFL Home Edition FAQ: “The TOEFL iBT Home Edition is now a standard option for test takers and will be available for the foreseeable future, along with the option of testing at a test center.”
  • Also per the TOEFL Home Edition FAQ, ETS is temporarily accepting expired IDs for TOEFL Home Edition registration. From the FAQ: “ETS is temporarily accepting government-issued IDs with expiration dates from February 1, 2020, forward. All other ID policies still apply.”
  • Although ProctorU’s staff still prvoide proctoring for the TOEFL Home Edition, you no longer book the Home Edition through ProctorU’s website. Booking and scheduling for the home version of this exam are now handled entirely on the ETS website, through the same platform that you’d use to book a test-center TOEFL.
  • For all TOEFL tests, including the TOEFL Home Edition, there is now a $60 fee for rescheduling the exam, and all exams must be rescheduled at least four days in advance. For more informaiton, see this page from the official TOEFL website.

The TOEFL Home Edition test was originally created as a safe way to take a real TOEFL exam from home during the pandemic; it is now being offerend on a permanent basis.

This at-home test is available everywhere except Mainland China and Iran. Note that China and Iran have reopened some of their traditional TOEFL test centers, and that China also offers the TOEFL ITP Plus as an alternative exam. If you are able to take the TOEFL Home Edition outside of mainland China or Iran, you can register with ETS here.

ETS has also begun offering a live chat service for test-takers with COVID-19 questions. This service can be access from the pop-up chat window on any page within the official TOEFL website.

Last but certainly not least, ETS has begun to open test centers in various countries, regions and cities in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific. For updates on reopened test centers and health and safety requirements for in person testing see the official page for ETS Covid-19 updates, and click on the link for your testing region.

>> Read:



Due to test cancelations related to the Coronavirus pandemic, LSAC is offering a new, remote-proctored, at-home LSAT exam: LSAT-Flex. This exam lasts two hours and has three sections. It uses real LSAT questions and is monitored by live proctors.

Adcoms will be able to see if a student took the LSAT-Flex. LSAC advises that most law schools have no issue accepting Flex scores, though it should be noted that some programs will only accept these scores for fall 2020 admissions, not for fall 2021 admission. Please check with the programs you plan to apply to for more information.

Magoosh is offering a free LSAT-Flex 101 prep course, which includes an LSAT-Flex practice test, score predictor, study guide, and free trial of Magoosh LSAT Prep.

In February 2021, LSAC announced that all exams through at least June 2022 will be LSAT-Flex exams.

In addition, there are some LSAT changes coming in August 2021, including the re-inclusion of an unscored experimental section on the LSAT-Flex. In addition, moving forward, the test will continue to use the three-section format it’s used on the Flex exam (in other words, that second LR section is gone!).

>> Watch: LSAT-Flex Review & Tips: A Student’s Experience
>> Read: Taking the LSAT-Flex Exam: Online At-Home LSAT Testing
>> Read: LSAT-Flex Score Conversion Table (How to Predict Your LSAT Flex Score!)


MCAT & Coronavirus in 2021

On October 7, 2020, AAMC announced their plans to return to regularly scheduled programming in 2021. That means administering MCAT exams on the typical full-year schedule, and holding only in-person administrations of the full-length exam. AAMC is adding a new January testing option, and offering an afternoon testing session (non-morning-people rejoice!).

mcat january 2021 test dates

AAMC will have new health and safety standards at testing centers, to help keep testers safe during their exam. You can learn more in AAMC’s FAQs: The MCAT and COVID-19.

What Happened with the MCAT & Coronavirus in 2020?

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, AAMC cancelled MCAT exams and then offered a shortened MCAT for the remainder of 2020. This exam was 5 hours and 45 minutes long, as opposed to the normal 7 and a half hours. AAMC also added three new test dates: June 28, September 27, and September 28, and expedited score release timelines. If you were scheduled to take one of the cancelled exams, you should have received a cancellation email.

>> Read: What to do if your MCAT study plans have been disrupted due to coronavirus
>> Watch: Message to MCAT Students from an MCAT Expert re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Med School Admissions
>> Watch: Study With Me LIVE – MedKinza & Kat from Magoosh MCAT

Other Tests

The Praxis exam now has a home edition! For teachers seeking licensure, the Praxis portion of that path is now safer and more convenient. For more information, see ETS’s press release on the home-based Praxis tests.

If you live in a state where the HiSET is accepted as a high school equivalency exam, then you’re in luck. You can now take the HiSET from home as well! Check out the ETS website for more information.

The widely accepted GED high school quivalency exam is also now available in a home-based format for those unable to take the traditional GED due to Covid-19. Click this link for more information on the home-based GED.

Magoosh’s Response

Students with a Magoosh Account

If you are a current Magoosh student, we know that your studying plans may be disrupted. We are offering all of our existing students the option to pause or extend your Magoosh account free of charge. Please send a message to our team at if you’ve been impacted.

New Magoosh Students

Are you thinking of purchasing Magoosh prep but worried your standardized test will be affected due to the implications of Coronavirus?

After completing your purchase, email us at and we will pause or extend your Magoosh subscription plan for free.

Take Care

We wish everyone the best at this stressful time! Please take good care of yourselves, your loved ones, and your community.