Students prepare for changes in standardized testing

Students continue to practice for the SATs at home. —Brooke Crocker

In addition to school closures across the nation, students’ classes and plans for the future have been cancelled, rescheduled, or left entirely up in the air. The College Board, the company behind Advanced Placement (AP) tests and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)  has made decisions to postpone the SAT, change the format for AP tests, and allow students to cancel their AP tests due to students being unable to take the tests in person. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has decided to cancel the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System this year. 

While seniors are adapting to changes made in terms of APs, numerous students in the junior class are also adapting to the postponement of the SATs. The College Board has made the decision to cancel all tests until August, which leaves students who have yet to take the test a short timeframe in which to complete the tests in the fall before college applications are sent. 

Junior Eric Reubens said, “It’a a lot with AP tests and SATs, but I think with all the time we get outside of classes it’s possible to be able to do both.” 

Many colleges, such as Williams College and Amherst College, are now making the SAT optional and still giving college credit to students who take and do well on AP tests, a 4 or a 5 out of 5, but for many students the changes in testing and schooling will drastically change their plans for the future. 

Many seniors who are enrolled in AP classes may not necessarily receive college credit for their classes and will now take 45-minute tests, as opposed to the typical three hours, that cover less material. Students may have to advocate for themselves in terms of receiving college credit. 

“I was hoping to receive college credit. I believe I still can, it will just be more challenging than before,” said senior Olivia Schroeder. “If I do pass the AP Spanish test, it has the ability to fulfill my language requirement next year.” 

Though AP tests have been modified to cover less content, many classes still have material they are learning or practicing in their classes. Though classes are trying to review curriculum, students are finding it more difficult to do so alone and through remote learning

“Coronavirus has definitely made keeping up with the AP curriculum difficult,” said Olivia, “because like all other subjects, we are not able to have direct conversations with teachers. No amount of online school can replace being in a classroom.” 

While many students must now confront the uncertainty of the future of their AP classes, students are relieved to see the test decreased from three hours to 45 minutes.

Senior Peter Burke said, “It will definitely be nice to have a 45-minute test as opposed to the usual three hours, and it’s nice to be able to cancel exams, but obviously it would have been simpler if everything had just gone as usual. I wasn’t expecting to get college credit for APs, but they can still test me out of certain entry-level classes in college.” 

The revised AP testing schedule involves testing later in May and a second round of optional testing in June. “I would rather have the ordinary format for the AP tests, because I’m more familiar with it,” said junior Bella Thorpe. “[The new AP schedule] gives us more time to review.”

Changes to SAT and AP testing have brought relief to some students. Junior Avery Simmons said, “As someone who is not a very good test-taker, I think that colleges going optional [about requiring SAT scores] due to COVID-19 is beneficial to many students. “I still do think it’s fair for colleges to require it, as long as there are still numerous chances to get your score to where you want it to be.”