In these unprecedented times, KO’s juniors in particular have been impacted by the cancelation of the SAT and ACT standardized tests in the spring, as well as the changes made to the AP exams at the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 16, the organizations that administer the SAT and ACT college placement exams canceled their springtime test dates on March 25 (SAT), March 28 (makeup SAT), April 4 (ACT), and May 2 (SAT) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The April ACT date has been rescheduled for June 13, and the June SAT date has not yet been affected. Around 3 million people take the SAT every year, and 1.5 million take the ACT annually, so their cancelations are affecting students nationwide.
At KO, juniors are up against this issue. Many students at KO have yet to take these college placement tests, and with the possibility of SAT/ACT dates in the future being canceled as well, that puts them in a tough position in the fall when the bulk of the college process begins.
Director of College Advising Jami Silver emphasized that a lot of colleges are starting to make some accommodations for students in the class of 2021.
“What is happening is that we are beginning to see an influx of colleges going test-optional because this is creating stress for a lot of kids who would normally take these tests now, instead of in June or July,” Ms. Silver said.
When a college goes test-optional, it means that applicants are not required to provide the scores of their college placement exams.
Submitting SAT or ACT scores to colleges when applying is often one of the major components of an application for schools in terms of their assessment of students. However, with recent changes, Associate Director of College Advising Matt Waldman thinks that colleges know that they will have to change things up this year.
“What we know is that colleges understand that there are a lot of different aspects of the student experience, and testing is just one,” Mr. Waldman said. “They are gonna have to change what’s normal for them when evaluating applicants.”
However, kids who haven’t taken either of these tests yet aren’t the only ones being affected. As a student who has taken the SAT already, junior Madeline Arcaro’s plans for the future have still been impacted by this spring’s cancellations. “I’ve already taken the SAT, but I had hoped to take it one more time in the beginning of next year,” Madeline said. “Now that the SAT’s have been shut down until at least June, people are scared about them canceling more tests, or placing a limit of how many times someone can take it to account for overcrowding.”
As for AP exams, the normal two to three hour written exam has been reduced to a 45-minute online assessment for students in Advanced Placement classes across the country. This new online test reduces the amount of content that would usually be covered on the exam to roughly only 70% of the original material, since almost all kids are not in school. All AP subjects will have two different testing dates so students can choose when they would like to take their test. The AP Exam Administration has also given students access to live AP review sessions from teachers across the nation, and although there hasn’t been any official statement, it is being rumored that the AP exams could be open-book this year.
Junior Sloan Duvall thinks that the changes to the test are both somewhat aggravating but nice at the same time. “It is kind of annoying because all year we have been preparing for the original format of the exam, which has been changed dramatically; however, it is nice as well because the content on the exams has been cut,” Sloan said. “Now we have more flexibility in my AP classes to slow down and learn the material at a slower pace.”
After hearing about the changes being made to these exams, AP US history teacher Rob Kyff has changed his style of teaching for these closing months of the school year. Instead of trying to get through the last 70 years of history he would usually teach in the months of April and May, Mr. Kyff is able to go much more in- depth because the exam is not requiring that students know any information past the year 1945. “Our class is now able to explore the 1933 – 1945 period of the Great Depression and World War II in much more depth,” Mr. Kyff said. “We should be finished with that material by the end of April and then devote two more weeks to review.” Mr. Kyff has also taken this opportunity to have his students look into the 1918 flu pandemic and explore the similarities and differences from today’s pandemic and the 1918 outbreak.
As of right now, it’s tough to tell whether or not more SAT and ACT testing dates will be canceled or what the complete format might look like for the AP exams. However, students at KO and all across the country are struggling with these issues that have arisen due to the rapid coronavirus outbreak.