Daily Video

May 19, 2020

How COVID-19 is changing college admissions



Directions: Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. The video has been edited for length. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here.


Summary: With schools closed and classes moving online, students nationwide are being forced to adapt to a new learning landscape. One challenge: standardized testing for college admissions. Some experts believe changes to the system now may permanently alter the ways college evaluate incoming students.

  • Many tests have been canceled this spring and some universities are now making testing optional for applications. 
  • Although exam administrators say tests will be run online by this fall, some experts worry that shift will exacerbate existing systemic inequities. 


Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: How can colleges make sure admissions tests are fair for all students?
  2. Do you think making standardized testing optional for college admissions is a good idea? Why or why not? Should universities consider doing away with standardized testing altogether? Explain. 
  3. Why might a crisis like COVID-19 make education more difficult for some students than others? How is COVID-19 making college applications more difficult for some students than others?
  4. Media literacy: In this video clip we hear from a college admissions consultant who argues that universities that have gone test optional are benefiting from increased applications and can be more selective. Why do you think NewsHour interviewed an outside education consultant? Did colleges interviewed or mentioned in this story discuss these other reasons for going test optional?


For monthly updates containing teacher resources on Election 2020, click here. Sign up for short education highlights from the PBS NewsHour here.


If you are making plans for distance learning, take a look at our list of PBS resources that covers a variety of subjects for middle and high school students. 

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