COVID-19: Turbulence Ahead

For years we’ve grown accustomed to the familiarity of our schools, to the company of friends and colleagues, and to the rhythm of the academic year. All of us are now in uncharted waters. As we face this challenging period, the best thing to do is to face things one day at a time and to collaborate as much as possible. Together we will get through this.

Universities are aware of the impact of COVID-19 on the academic year as well as standardized test schedules. In response, they plan to adjust requirements and deadlines. In the coming weeks, I will continue to monitor how universities and schools respond, and to share what I learn with you. Expect weekly updates from me. I will keep the format general in case you want to share this information with friends, classmates, and colleagues.


Key dates and deadlines are being reviewed to offer flexibility throughout the admission cycle and to minimize the impact on your application. For updates on changes in university admission events, deposit dates, and more, visit university websites, use the newly launched NACAC College Admission Status Update: Coronavirus Impact tool or this crowd-sourced list; these primarily contain information on American universities, though you’ll also find listed some Canadian and British institutions.


While admission offices are currently focused on this year’s applicants, know they are also considering adjustments they’ll need to make for the next admission cycle. For now, continue your search for universities and programs. Many universities offer virtual tours and staff at most universities are available to answer questions. CIALFO’s Online University Fair on March 20, 23 and 24 offers a chance to learn about many international options.


Many post-secondary institutions have now resumed by offering classes online. Some institutions are requiring students to move out of residences to “help flatten the curve” by limiting numbers on campus. If due to an exceptional circumstance you’re unable to return home, be sure to connect with residence staff to learn how they can help you.

Some schools are still offering campus tours on a reduced schedule, but the number of persons on tours are limited. If you need to defer deposits, check with your preferred school as many are extending deadlines. Most SSAT test centres have closed.


English Proficiency Tests

TOEFL and IELTS testing has been affected in many countries. Visit the ETS and British Council websites for updates on testing availability in your country. If you’re comfortable taking a test online, consider the Duolingo English Test which can be taken anytime, anywhere; be sure to confirm the test is accepted by post-secondary institutions on your list.

Graduate and professional standardized tests

MCAT exam administrations on March 27 and April 4 have been cancelled globally. GMAT and GRE testing has also been impacted around the world, though some test centres remain open.

ACT and SAT Cancellations

On March 16, The College Board and ACT, Inc. suspended testing until June. Students who planned to take the makeup SAT on March 28, the ACT on April 4, or the SAT on May 2 will have to make adjustments to testing plans. Do keep me updated.

The College Board has indicated that it will “provide future additional SAT testing opportunities for students as soon as feasible in place of canceled administrations.” The June 6 SAT administration has not yet been cancelled, but The College Board will continue to assess the viability of the sitting. ACT, Inc. rescheduled the April 4 national test date to June 12 and 13. In the coming days, students who registered for that sitting will receive an email from ACT, Inc. with instructions for next steps.

Given these cancellations, we recommend signing up earlier for future test sittings.

International Baccalaureate

IBO has implemented a series of measures to help students meet coursework deadlines. If your school has been closed, they will be in touch with IBO to secure extensions. Currently, IBO is working on the assumption that the May exams will continue. “[T]he COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak is affecting different parts of the world at different times and is a rapidly evolving situation. Currently, there are schools globally who are not affected and whose students are preparing to take their examinations in May, while for other schools, it is not yet certain they will be open for the exams.” IB World Schools will update affected students.

British-patterned education: A Level Examinations

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced school closures in the United Kingdom, and also that exams will not take place as planned in May and June. According to UCAS , “Flexibility within the admission process will be enhanced and extended to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and the announcement that there will be no exam this year.” Students will be emailed information on how changes might affect them. Be sure to keep your email address up-to-date in Track.

At the same time, Cambridge Assessment International Education announced that “Cambridge International exams will go ahead outside of the UK in countries where schools are open or exams can be held safely.”


Abstract: The Art of Design
highlights artists in the field of design.

Bill Nye: Science Guy
demonstrates the importance of scientific-evidence.

Brain Games challenges viewers with puzzling brain benders showing you the truth about how you perceive the world.


You’ll find fact-based information about COVID-19 and how it spreads through Coursera’s Science Matters: Let’s Talk About COVID-19, a free course by Imperial College of London.

On March 26, Coursera is offering Why You Should Go into Public Health, a webinar that explains why a future in Public Health may be the right move for you.

In How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek offers a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership, starting with the golden circle which asks: Why, how, and what?

VerveSmith helps students identify universities that match their aspirations and to develop an admissions application strategy. Contact us.

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