Tufts University hadn’t been planning to drop its standardized testing requirement for college admissions. Then the coronavirus pandemic upended life for the anxious high school students working to get there.

Tufts and other colleges have now announced that they won’t require SAT or ACT scores from this year’s high school juniors to be considered for admission in fall 2021. A few even waived testing for this year’s seniors. That’s life-changing for some applicants, and it could change the makeup of the next generation of college students.

About a dozen colleges eliminated such scores in the past week alone, according to FairTest, a nonprofit advocacy group that has led the “test optional” movement for 30 years.

“This could be the death knell of admissions testing,” said Chris Falcinelli, founder of Focus Educational Services, a private tutoring firm in Brooklyn. “It’s something we were adjusting to over time and might be thrust upon us all at once.”

Joseph “JT” Duck, dean of admissions for Tufts School of Arts and Sciences and its engineering school, said the rapid pace at which high school students were thrown into uncertainty prompted the decision.

“Taking a standardized test for college admissions should not be at the forefront of their thinking,” Duck said in an email.

Both ACT and the College Board, which administers the SAT, have canceled their tests until June, meaning some juniors could have trouble taking, or retaking, the test before applying in the fall.

“To me,” Duck said, “it was indefensible to miss out on great students because of too much rigidity about a testing requirement.”

If more testing dates are canceled, it’s unclear how the companies could handle that demand, said Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost of enrollment management at Oregon State University. The school also dropped the test last week, but had been discussing the idea since last fall.

“The bigger issue is whether they could go ‘test optional’ for a single year and then go back,” Boeckenstedt said. “That would seem unfair at best.”

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