Harvard Releases Guidance for High Schoolers Applying During Pandemic


Harvard College published a note to high school juniors Friday detailing revised expectations for applications amid the coronavirus epidemic, writing that applicants will not face penalties if they are unable to submit Advanced Placement test scores or SAT subject test results.

Testing dates for the SAT and ACT college placement exams through May have been postponed or canceled across the world in response to the pandemic. The College Board, which administers the SAT, has also scrapped the in-person component of Advanced Placement exams, which typically take place in the late spring.

Harvard’s note to juniors detailed several areas in which high school students will “not be disadvantaged" if their applications depart from the admissions guidelines the College has used in the past. Applicants will not face a penalty if their high schools move to a pass-fail grading system or if they are unable to retake the SAT or ACT.

“We will continue to look at the whole person as we consider applications next year – as always. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years - including community involvement, employment, and help given to your family – will all be considered,” the note reads. “Students who find themselves limited in the activities they can pursue due to the current coronavirus outbreak will not be disadvantaged as a result.”


Finally, the College explained that the pandemic will not impact Harvard’s financial aid program, pointing to the continuation of the program through the 2008 financial crisis. Still, as global markets tumble, many experts believe the pandemic will cause financial woes at Harvard more broadly.

“As was the case during the economic down[turn] a decade ago and in similar situations before, our revolutionary financial aid program will not be compromised in any way,” the note reads. “A majority of Harvard students receive need based financial aid - and loans are not required.”

The College Board canceled the March 28 and May 2 administration of the SAT, noting that it will organize additional opportunities for domestic and international students. The ACT also postponed its April 4 domestic test date to June 13, allowing students to reschedule to a future test free of charge.

The College Board also announced on its website Friday that Advanced Placement exams for the 2019-2020 school year will include 45-minute virtual exams in place of typical in-person components. The organization wrote that it plans to implement digital security features to deter cheating and plagiarism.

“We’ll be as flexible as possible to give students the best chance to show their skills and stay on the path to college,” its website reads.

The June 6 administration of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests is currently scheduled to continue as planned. The next international administration of the SAT is slated for August 29, and the next ACT administration for domestic students for July 18.

—Staff writer Benjamin L. Fu can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BenFu_2.

—Staff writer Dohyun Kim can be reached at