College Board Cancels June SAT Exams
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In alignment with public health guidance and nationwide school closures due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the College Board has decided to cancel the SAT and SAT Subject Test (SAT II) examinations scheduled for June 6. If public health guidelines permit, the College Board intends to accommodate for the cancellations by administering the SAT tests once a month, beginning in August and ending in December. Students will be able to sign up for the new test dates beginning in May, with early sign-ups for those who had registered for the June tests or are current juniors and have not yet taken the SAT.
The June examination cancellation followed that of the March and May SATs, which were canceled earlier in mid-March. In response to the exam cancellations, many undergraduate admissions offices have waived standardized testing requirements for college applications for the class of 2021.
In the event that schools remain closed through the fall, the College Board plans to create an online version of the SATs, which are similar to the online Advanced Placement (AP) exams being administered this May, so that students can take them at home. This would allow the exams to be “accessible to all and valid for use in college admissions,” according to the College Board’s announcement.
Director of College Counseling Jeffrey Makris is concerned about the College Board’s plans to accommodate testing for everyone, particularly for students who have not had a chance to take the SATs yet. “If [the] College Board is able to offer live SAT exams this summer and fall (and that’s still a big IF), the demand for seats for these exams is going to be enormous, and quite possibly far more than test sites can possibly accommodate,” he said in an e-mail interview. “If any of our students plan on testing this summer or fall, they should register as soon as registration opens to give themselves the best chance of getting a seat.”
Students are also uncertain as to how this decision will affect their college application process, which normally relies heavily on standardized tests, such as the SAT, scores. “I have been doing virtual college tours, and many colleges have said they will be accommodating with SAT tests, with many turning to the test-optional option. So I am not sure if I will take the SAT again,” junior Tori Lieberman wrote in an e-mail interview. “As for subject tests, I may not take them at all because even more colleges are not requiring SAT IIs. I have not decided what tests I am or am not taking, and since everything is up in the air, I'm not sure what will happen.”
Junior Michael Nath, who had planned to retake the SAT, was disappointed by the cancellation of the June exams. “I was really hoping to boost my score a couple of points by taking the SAT in June. I was actually getting ready to take the test. I ordered the books, and I was getting ready to schedule my study sessions. And so, a few days ago, I got an [e-mail] saying it was canceled,” he said. “Taking it in June would have been a lot better because I would have had the entire summer to dedicate to writing essays and researching colleges. I'm going to have to spend a third of that summer studying for the SAT, which really sucks.”
Because the way colleges are assessing undergraduate applications is uncertain, students are still considering taking the test. “My assumption is that the test will be less impactful [on] college admissions, though it probably won't hurt to take it. Because of this, I still plan on taking it in August,” junior Liam Kronman said in an e-mail interview.
The cancellation of the June tests has also become an issue for many students timewise. “Though the colleges have changed their standardized testing requirements, many students will still struggle to take the same amount of tests in a shortened time period in order to gain that advantage for college applications,” junior Cynthia Or said in an e-mail interview.
The exam cancellations have also affected students’ workloads. “Cancellations cause more stress because I signed up for the June SAT II with a plan that would spread my work and testing schedule over a greater amount of time. Now that the testing is pushed back, my workload becomes more concentrated," Or said.
On the other hand, some students felt the College Board’s prior notice of seven weeks provided them with sufficient time to reorganize their study schedule. “I was planning on taking two subject tests in June but hadn't begun studying. If the tests had been canceled later, I would probably have been more disappointed because my studying would've been futile,” Kronman said.
Some students are still continuing to study for their examinations despite the June SAT cancellations. “Despite the June exams being canceled, I plan to continue studying for the assessment in hopes of retaining the information I have learned thus far. I don't see a reason to not take the biology SAT subject test,” freshman Kitty Wang said in an e-mail interview.
Wang also felt that the change was beneficial for her. “I neither prefer nor reject these new changes because I see such alterations as imminent and necessary. However, the rescheduled availability of the exam does open the door to more preparation time and a more flexible schedule,” Wang said.
Though the changes are not ideal, students understand the rationale behind canceling the SATs. “I don't prefer these new changes, but with everything, I think that they are necessary. I wish I could take the tests at the times I planned to, but I don't think there is another solution. We can't do remote tests because people could easily cheat which wouldn't be fair to everyone else, and we can't do tests at school because of the virus,” Lieberman said.
Though the College Board has yet to release information about the possibility of online testing, Or strongly supports online testing over traditional classroom testing. “College Board should host online tests like with the APs. While canceling in-person testing is definitely a good idea, there will be an increased number of people taking the tests when schools are able to [reopen], which still poses a risk in the aftermath of the pandemic. Opening online tests will reduce that number of people," she said.
Other students, however, are opposed to taking an online SAT test. “It gets really loud in my household, which makes it hard to take a three-hour test without any distractions, like using the restroom, and it also wouldn't feel the same way,” Nath said. “Taking a test on paper versus taking a test electronically, you get a completely different experience, and if you're a student [who has taken] paper exams for most of their life, then switching to electronic testing would be a vast, drastic change.”
Like remote education and online AP examinations, online testing raises concerns for students who are technologically disadvantaged and have issues with maintaining a controlled testing environment for exam-takers. “For students though, there is the ever-present issue of technology access for some of our students and accommodations for students with special needs. A digital SAT may come with more equity issues,” Makris said. “And there is a deeper concern: will college admissions offices see a digital version of the exam as having the same validity as the traditional SAT?”
There is also doubt among students about the validity of a remotely administered SAT for college admissions. “Colleges will understand that the SATs this year will be very screwed up, and so they might not really consider that 1600 if it was taken electronically. A lot of other students could have gotten that 1600 but [would not have been able to] because they had no Wi-Fi or no device,” Nath said.
The cancellation of the June SAT examinations is one of the myriad of impacts the COVID-19 crisis has had on the Stuyvesant community and another change that students—especially juniors—will need to adjust to. “I guess I'm just bummed out that the SAT is getting pushed,” Nath said. “I'm just bummed out by this entire coronavirus situation.”