SAT and AP Testing during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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PC: Kasie Leung ('23) Many students have invested a lot of time preparing for the SATs and APs. Given the public health risks that students testing in crowded centers would pose, how will students earn credit and recognition for their hard work?

Kasie Leung, Staff Writer

PC: Kasie Leung (’23)
Many students have invested a lot of time preparing for the SATs and APs. Given the public health risks that students testing in crowded centers would pose, how will students earn credit and recognition for their hard work?

For many students during this time of crisis, standardized testing has been the furthest thing from their minds. Yet COVID-19 has forced the College Board to modify, postpone, and even cancel some Advanced Placement (AP) and SAT exams. This is because COVID-19 is extremely contagious and having students sit together in a room for hours on end would only increase the virus’s spread. While young people taking the test are not particularly at risk, the worry is that they could become vectors for transmission to high risk people such as the elderly or people with pre-existing medical conditions. The public health concern has forced the College Board to take action.

Regarding the SAT, the makeup exam for the March 14 test, scheduled for March 18, has also been canceled. The exam that was going to take place on May 2 has also been canceled. All students registered for these tests will receive full refunds. While the June 6 SAT has not been canceled yet, “SAT administration will continue to assess its status with the health and safety of students and educators as our top priority.” 

The APs have not been canceled because while there are multiple sittings for the SAT, there is only one chance to take a specific AP. The College Board has decided to create 45 minute exams that students can take online. Furthermore, they have decided to create an exam that “will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.” This decision was made because while many schools like ours have been able to continue schooling online, many schools have not been as fortunate. 

Regarding these changes, Jasper Jain (‘23), who is planning on taking the AP Physics exam, said “It seems that [the College Board] is trying to make their tests accessible to everyone, which is very important. Although some of their changes might be inconvenient, they are small sacrifices to make considering that public health is in danger.” Even though students do understand that public health is at stake, this change could affect students who urgently need to take the SAT such as juniors who don’t want to worry about the exams in senior year or need to send in early decision applications. 

College counselor Mr. Ben Lah recommends that students “just remember that there will be additional opportunities to take standardized exams in late summer and early fall, and even for seniors, colleges will accept up to the December exam for regular admission.” He also anticipates “a rush to register for the August and October SAT and the September ACT once they become available so seniors can use those scores for early applications.” He advises rising seniors to register early, because space at their preferred testing sites .could run out. The college counseling department will also be keeping an eye on the way that colleges decide to change their policies in response. He notes that “Case Reserve Western University, Boston University and Tufts University have already announced they are going test optional for the next admission cycle and more schools may take similar measures.”