It’s been over six months since the world unexpectedly went into quarantine to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, and nearly everything has changed. Now, masks are the norm, Covid testing is ubiquitous, and social distancing is enforced. Almost no aspect of life is immune to significant changes, and education and preparing for college- notably in terms of standardized testing- is no exception. Read on to learn more about the changes that Covid-19 has brought to the realm of SATs and ACTs.
A Brief Overview of SATs/ACTs and their Past
SATs and ACTs are both approximately three hour long standardized exams that test areas of knowledge such as English, evidence based reading, math, and Science for the ACT. The SAT is out of 1600 points and the ACT is out of 36. Submitted as a part of college applications, these multiple choice tests are utilized as a measuring point to compare applicants.
In the past, SATs and ACTs were offered on multiple dates over the course of the year, and students began taking them in junior year. Students were traditionally able to enjoy an in-school SAT/ACT class and take tests in a traditional setting, usually a large, spaced out room with other students taking the exam alongside them.
The Future of Testing
At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, many adaptations were made to accommodate testing in the new quarantined world. Now, the question is begged: will similar accommodations be made for SATs and ACTs?
In terms of AP Exams, a condensed version of the tests were distributed virtually to be submitted within the allotted time. Another notable modification is the unprecedented allowance of the utilization of notes and other texts during the exam. These exams are similar to the SATs and ACTs in that they are distributed internationally and created uniformly for students all over; teachers do not make them for their own students (like final exams).
However, the adaptations for AP Exams don’t transfer to the SATs and ACTs. The former was assigned at home, while the latter is not permitted to be taken at home. If students want to take the SATs or ACTs during the pandemic, they must take them in person.
This raises many questions. What if an at-risk student is unable to attend due to Coronavirus concerns? What safety measures will be in place?
First, many colleges are making admission test-optional. Students can submit their report cards, essays, recommendations, and all the other requirements but omit the SAT/ACT scores. This is a kind accommodation for students during this strange and stressful time, as many have had their testing plans thrown off track. The downside is that even if SATs and ACTs are not mandatory, they still can be valuable. If a student has a great score, that can give him/her an advantage over other applicants. The examinations are a great way to show off academic, linguistic, mathematical, and scientific proficiency.
So if one decides to take SATs and/or ACTs, one must take them in person. When in person, many safety precautions are employed. Scheck Hillel is a model in doing so, as they just hosted a distanced SAT on campus.
SATs at Scheck Hillel
Recently, Scheck Hillel opened up campus to seniors so that they could take an SAT exam. The students were divided into small groups, with about 10 people in every proctored room. Safety measures were of high priority; everyone was to wear a mask and social distancing was implemented. The social distancing while testing was actually not too different from the norm, as students are always dispersed to prevent academic dishonesty.
There are merits to the new arrangement. Sara Kurz, Grade 12, explains that “taking the SAT in small groups was stressful, but it was a better testing environment than being in a crowded gym on a normal day.” The on campus SAT was a great opportunity for students, and there will be more similar events in the future, like a PSAT for juniors and an ACT for seniors in October.
The testing on campus itself is not the only opportunity Scheck Hillel offers pertaining to SATs and ACTs. High school students are privy to college counselors, supportive teachers that write raving recommendations, and college readiness classes. Plus, one of the most interesting programs Scheck Hillel offers is an SAT/ACT preparatory course through Revolution Prep. This class is unique because it was taught over Zoom before the pandemic hit, which made the shift to remote learning seamless for this course, and students are reaping the benefits of it. The class offers a great insider perspective on the examinations and some useful strategies. Zach Lemmer, Grade 11, says of the class “I like that we learn valuable techniques and information to do well on the SAT.”
All in all, the future of SATs and ACTs are looking bright. While no longer always mandatory for college applications, they still have merits in current times. Despite the new pandemic lifestyle, there are still great resources and safe testing opportunities offered, especially at Scheck Hillel. With these, students are set to excel and go above and beyond, even in these difficult times.