Frequently Asked Questions

Testing FAQ

PSAT, SAT and ACT Testing For the Reopening of Schools

  • PSAT, SAT, and ACT Testing for the Reopening of School

    Below is the latest information and rationale behind the current thinking regarding the offering of the PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10, the PSAT/NMSQT, the SAT, and the ACT tests for the fall of the 2020 school year.


    Will ACPS offer the PSAT 8/9 or PSAT 10 during the 2020-21 school year?

    ANSWER: No.  Given the decision to reopen schools in a fully virtual model, ACPS will only provide those assessments that are deemed absolutely necessary to meet state, federal, and local mandates for the 2020-21 school year.


    Will ACPS offer the PSAT/NMSQT during the 2020-21 school year?

    ANSWER: No.  The PSAT/NMSQT is traditionally taken by 11th grade students and also serves as the qualifying exam for the National MeritⓇ Scholarship Program.  The PSAT/NMSQT is only available on select dates in October and is administered during the school day.  Because ACPS is operating in a virtual model during the fall of 2020 to ensure student and staff safety in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not feasible to run the PSAT/NMSQT test for 11th grade students in ACPS in October of 2020.


    Are there other opportunities for 11th grade students to be considered for qualification for the National MeritⓇ Scholarship Program? 

    ANSWER: Yes. ACPS has been in contact with National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) and The College Board about other opportunities for students to qualify for the National MeritⓇ Scholarship Program without taking the October 2020 PSAT/NMSQT.  Traditionally, any student who is unable to take the PSAT/NMSQT may follow the process below from NMSC:

    A student who does not take the PSAT/NMSQT because of illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the competition. The student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration to request information about procedures for alternate entry to the National Merit Scholarship Program. To be considered, a request must be postmarked no later than April 1 following the PSAT/NMSQT administration that was missed. The alternate entry request should include the name and address of the student; the contact information of the person making the request; the name and address of the student's high school; and a brief explanation of why the student missed the PSAT/NMSQT.

    NMSC has indicated that school closures are a potential extenuating circumstance, and that they are closely monitoring the situation nationally to determine if further guidance is needed.

    ACPS will continue to monitor guidance and communication from both the NMSC and The College Board in order to determine if there may be other opportunities during the full 2020-21 school year in which 11th graders may participate for National Merit Scholarship consideration.  Any changes or clarifications will then be communicated to the community.


    Will ACPS schools be used to offer either the standard SAT or the ACT on Saturdays this fall?

    ANSWER: Currently, due to the required safety protocols that include screening procedures, PPE requirements, and social distancing requirements, it is not feasible to use ACPS schools, including T.C. Williams High School, to offer a Saturday SAT (College Board) or ACT in the fall of 2020.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is a regularly changing landscape.  Potential Saturday opportunities beyond the fall of 2020 will be explored if local health information and guidance changes.


    I’m a senior and I think I need a test score for college admissions.  What do I do?

    ANSWER: Students in the class of 2021 should check the admissions websites of any college or university to which they are considering applying to determine if a standardized test score from either the SAT or ACT is required for fall 2021 admissions.  A substantial number of colleges and universities are waiving the test score requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students should also consult with colleges and universities regarding any test score requirements for scholarships:

    If a student wishes to take either an SAT or ACT test this fall, they should seek out available testing sites through either The College Board or ACT websites.

    The College and Career Center at T.C. Williams High School has current test dates and deadlines along with updated information for the top 20 schools to which students typically apply on.

    School counselors and the college and career counselor at T.C. Williams will be working with seniors at the start of the school year to finalize individual postsecondary plans.  Families may also reach out to them with questions about their individual college planning needs. They remain ready to support students in their postsecondary planning and transition.


    I need to take the SAT or ACT but do not have the money.  Is there any help to pay the fees?

    ANSWER: Yes.  If you have been approved to receive free or reduced priced meals or there are other extenuating circumstances, please reach out to Ms. Marianne Hawn, at T.C. Williams High School to request a fee waiver for either the SAT or ACT test.  She can be reached at 


    I need to prepare for the SAT or ACT.  Are there no-cost online options given that we will be fully virtual this fall?

    ANSWER: There are.  Students may access free SAT preparation materials to include practice tests through Khan Academy at  Students may access similar materials at the ACT Academy at

    Students may also reach out to the College and Career Center at T.C. Williams High School for additional ideas about test preparation.