BY EMMA HUERTA
It’s no lie that the coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm. Students have especially been affected as schools remain closed, classes and events turn virtual and days are indefinitely spent at home.
Besides the evident toll COVID-19 has taken on schools and their students, educational opportunities outside of the classroom have also been hindered.
In fact, College Board, the organization which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, cancelled some of their March SAT administrations, as well as all May 2 and June 6 SATs and SAT Subject Tests (SAT II).
Due to the high demand of these tests, as they are significant aspects of a complete college application, students everywhere were disappointed and outraged by the cancellations. Students often take the SAT multiple times to achieve their desired score, but this opportunity has been severely limited by the cancellations. Although the cancellations impact a student’s ability to prepare for and take the tests, as well as to successfully apply to college, they were a necessary measure in light of the growing pandemic.
As a result of the current social-distancing protocols in place nationwide, dense groupings, such as in schools, are not permitted. Students must realize that SAT administrations would provide a dangerous environment for all present at the specific testing centers, and thus cancelling the tests was the only logical option amidst the circumstances.
“I agree with [the] College Board’s decision to cancel the June SAT due to the current dangers of large gatherings.”Junior Kaylynn Nguyen
With these test dates cancelled, the College Board is planning on restarting SAT test administrations by the originally planned August 29 date. In addition, they are planning on adding another test administration on September 26. This is a step in the right direction, since the extra test date allows for students to gain back some of the testing opportunities and even study-time that coronavirus impacted.
“I agree with [the] College Board’s decision to cancel the June SAT due to the current dangers of large gatherings,” junior Kaylynn Nguyen said. “I was scheduled to take the SAT in June, but it has been canceled; I am actually relieved as I have more time to study now.”
Even though the cancellation of SAT administrations was reasonable, this solution on its own is not enough. Continuing test administrations in August, with only one extra test date, is still not guaranteed to accommodate all students deprived of testing due to coronavirus, as well as those beginning the testing process.
In light of these limitations, the College Board is also considering making an online version of the SAT. But, this is risky and brings up even more concerns, including cheating, technological difficulties, test reliability and college credit.
An online SAT seems like it would be more tedious to administer than a physical test. Technical issues are a possible difficulty, not only during the actual administration itself with so many students testing on a server simultaneously, but also for students who do not have access to the necessary technology in the first place. Additionally, undergoing the development of new testing software and later distributing it to thousands, even millions, of students would be overshadowed by higher chances of students cheating with a simple click to the Internet.
“I’m not sure if they’ll be able to keep the test secure at home. There’s massive pressure to cheat.”Sophomore Dylan Bober
“I was going to take my Chemistry and Math 2 subject tests in June,” sophomore Dylan Bober said. “So, that got canceled and it’s still a question if I can take the SAT early next year. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to keep the test secure at home. There’s massive pressure to cheat.”
A possible alternative for the online SAT could be administering more tests after the August date. If reality resumes to normalcy by then, there would be more flexibility in dates to administer the exams. Typically, SATs are conducted on one Saturday each month. The College Board could perhaps better invest their resources in increasing monthly test administrations for students, granting them more testing opportunities and higher security in-person, rather than with an online test.
A general solution to the SAT-coronavirus dilemma could also be a change in colleges’ policies, or removing the 2020-2021 standardized test requirement altogether. Despite this seeming like the more drastic option, many colleges, even top schools like Cornell University and Williams College, have changed their standards and made test score submissions optional.
Additionally, the University of California board of regents, which oversees nine undergraduate schools, recently unanimously voted to suspend the standardized testing requirement for freshman students through 2024, and eliminate the requirement for all California students following that.
The College Board must weigh their options and, most importantly, students’ perspectives, to make an effective decision regarding the SAT in tumultuous times.
Photo by The Lariat Photography