Standardized testing plans gain clarity

A student studies for his SAT subject tests in Severinghaus Library – photo by Index Staff

From education, occupations, and almost every aspect of our lives, the coronavirus has seemed to disrupt everything. Despite the gradual diminishing of cases and glimpses of normalcy returning, people are still under strict safety protocols. With many regions of the country under tight safety measures, standardized testing for millions of students is still an unknown variable in their college admissions processes.

     Still, in a quandary of college admissions, standardized testing for students across the country has been extremely difficult. In an attempt to alter the testing procedures and dates for test-takers, the College Board has been forced to cancel numerous test dates at the last minute, leaving many to wonder, what will happen now?

     One answer to that, the College Board has decided to cancel their “digital at-home SAT” due to the rare, but now available in-person testing. Limited in number, registration for these testing seats have been another problem for students looking to take the SAT and subject tests.

     With the abrupt cancellation of many testing sites, the ratio of students to testing spots and dates is even greater. According to the College Boards’ “SAT Test Center Capacity Update” site, 50%-75% of the testing seats in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD area have already been taken for the November SAT testing. The December testing seats are projected to be the same as the registration deadline creeps closer. Other areas such as the Seattle region have been either completely booked or 75% full for the November 7th testing date. With the 50%-75% in our region, this leaves the remaining 25% of students in a dilemma.

     Just one of the millions of students across the nation not currently in the sought after in person testing pool, Sixth Former Augie Aliaga shares common experiences and thoughts with many other test takers.

     “I had gotten to take the SAT and one of the three subject tests I was planning to take before the pandemic began. However, I did not get the opportunity to take the other two,” Aliaga said. “While I am planning on taking tests as soon as possible, I doubt that testing facilities near us will open if they have not already.” 

     The last-minute cancellations and shortage of testing sites nearby for students, this has been a main reason for some of the speculation of what the near future of standardized testing holds. 

     In these uncertain times for seniors during their crucial college application process, Aliaga remains positive. With the national scramble to grab a testing seat, many forget to keep in mind that most colleges and universities have gone test-optional.

     “Given that colleges have gone test-optional and adopted a policy that ensures students that means exactly as it reads, it is not the worst thing that could have happened,”  Aliaga said. Many of the top universities and colleges still remain test-optional and only a handful of colleges including Cornell and Stanford are still unyielding of their testing requirements despite circumstances.

     With the current events occurring that affect standardized testing, this is just another reason for some students to ponder upon the basis of tests such as the SAT, as a whole. 

     Fifth Former Quinn Luong is an advocate for performance in the classroom and extracurricular activities to determine a college candidate’s true capability.

     “The SAT does not measure your intelligence at all. COVID has allowed many colleges, like the UC schools, to have SAT scores be optional, and I hope this will allow schools to reevaluate the necessity of SAT’s.” For students like Luong, this situation has actually turned out to be quite good. 

Regardless, I think this has brought forth a realization that standardized testing is mostly unnecessary and that in the future colleges should be test-optional.

Sixth Former Augie Aliaga

     In a similar fashion, Aliaga commented, “I also think that the many universities have made the right decision by going test-optional. Regardless, I think this has brought forth a realization that standardized testing is mostly unnecessary and that in the future colleges should be test-optional.” 

     Many students like Luong and Aliaga have been able to utilize the pros in this complicated scenario as colleges and universities can now put more focus on the other aspects of their college applications.

     Whatever the opinion or situation for each student, the current state of affairs still remains hectic as testing sites and seats are almost always fully booked. Students and applicants will have to make the best of these challenging times and the college application process will surely be something unique this academic year.

Author: Ethan Chan '23

Ethan Chan has contributed to The Index since September of 2020. He currently serves as a Senior Managing Editor.