Schools need to adjust their SAT policies


Maxwell Meehan, Staff Writer

There have been many challenges associated with standardized testing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Although several effective safety measures have been implemented in schools to limit the spread of COVID-19, there is still uncertainty surrounding whether schools will administer the SAT only to their district’s students or if they will allow students from outside the school district to take the exam in their buildings.  Despite many schools focusing on their students’ safety, it is not fair to prevent other students from outside their school from taking the SAT.

Recently, there have been significant improvements in combating the pandemic.  As a result of effective vaccine distributions and successful safety measures, infections have lessened dramatically.  The improvements in fighting COVID-19 have caused many schools to begin the transition from a hybrid learning model to full time schooling. These improvements must extend further: schools should not prevent students from outside of their school district from taking the SAT in their buildings.

Given the uncertainty regarding certain schools being test-optional in the upcoming application cycle, there is even more pressure on students to find a testing site.  Now, in addition to the stress of preparing for an SAT, students have to be concerned about whether the testing site will administer the test to them in the first place.

“Preventing other students from getting an equal opportunity at an important test in the college application process, and in some cases not being even able to take it, is not fair,” said junior Terry McGinty.

In addition to the difficulties associated with finding a test center, the available test centers may often be far away.  Combined with cancellations and a limited number of testing centers to begin with, many are not able to find centers.  Traveling far away on an exam morning can negatively affect a student’s performance because of sleep deprivation and the stress of arriving late to an unfamiliar testing center.  Although standardized tests are inherently nerve-wracking, these conditions can increase  stress.

“Travelling a long distance on the morning of the SAT as a result of test cancellations could cause me to perform worse as a result of getting less sleep and having to find the test center in an unfamiliar location,” said junior Ethan Wofse.

There are numerous flaws with the College Board’s process of registering students for the SAT.  One flaw is the way the College Board communicates with students after hearing their center is closed.  Although the College Board claims they will contact students immediately once they hear of a cancellation, there is often a delay.  Ultimately, the delay can result in students not finding an alternative testing site.

“If I had been fully confident that the test site I was signing up for would not only administer the test to only their students, it would have relieved the stress associated with the uncertainty of whether I would be able to take the test at the first location I registered for,” said junior Charlie Bosworth.

With the high level of stress associated with the general standardized testing process, schools should not decide if they will only offer the test to their district’s students before an exam date.  If the College Board makes an official decision allowing all students, no matter the school, to take the SAT, this would limit the additional anxiety of searching for a distant, unfamiliar test center.