COVID-19, NEWS — April 1, 2020 at 2:02 pm

SATs and ACTs canceled through May due to virus fears

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As a result of COVID-19, national testing such as the SAT and ACT have been canceled..
As a result of COVID-19, national testing such as the SAT and ACT have been canceled. Graphic by Brianna Jesionowski

For many juniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) are important exams in their high school careers. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the April 4 ACT and CollegeBoard‘s May 2 SAT were canceled.

“Initially I was really worried because I had only taken the SAT once and I didn’t prepare for it at all, so I was thinking I didn’t do my best. If I wanted to take it a second time, I didn’t know if I would have enough time before college deadlines came around,” junior Arthy Suresh said. “Fortunately for me, I got the scores last week and ended up doing really well, but students who want another shot at the test might struggle under the pressure of time.”

As of right now, CollegeBoard has not postponed the June 6 SAT and SAT Subject Test administration. They plan to “continue to assess its status, with the health and safety of students and educators as [their] top priority.” The June 13 and July 18 ACT are the next national test days. Since the Broward County district closed down public schools, education companies, such as Khan Academy, are offering free sources, like practice tests, lessons and videos.

“When I heard the May SAT was canceled, I was upset because I wanted to get as many tries in as I could before college applications were due,” junior Mickella Jean Baptiste said. “I personally use Khan Academy to study for the SAT, especially the practice exams. I feel like teachers are putting more work into online schooling than they regularly do, causing me to have more homework.”

Refunds will also be returned to students “already registered for May, whose March test centers were closed, or who do not receive March scores because of any irregularities.” For the ACT, students who are unable or wish not to reschedule their test will be refunded for their registration fee for April.

“I think that CollegeBoard refunding the students is fair but they should also announce their makeup test dates as soon as possible because the cancellation was pretty unexpected,” junior Johanna Tam said. “When the May SAT got canceled, I expected it and wasn’t really mad or sad because I wasn’t planning on taking the May SAT anyways because I wanted to focus on AP Exams.”

With the postponement of many important events in the district, state and nation, the SAT and ACT are essential for juniors. Within years of schooling, students prepare themselves as well as they can in their freshmen and sophomore years for their stressful junior year. Various teenagers have done this by attending popular learning centers, including Kumon or Mathnasium, throughout their childhood or hiring private tutors.

Some strategies and techniques students used to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT include educational platforms, for instance, CrackACT for ACT practice tests. Before the outbreak, MSD offered free SAT/ACT preparatory classes for students in mathematics and English on campus.

“I prepared for the SAT through school prep. My teachers provided us with lots of practice to prepare us,” junior Mackenzie Mirsky. “I think preparation is going to be a lot harder now that we’re in quarantine. It’s going to be harder to ask questions and seek help without our teachers directly in front of us to explain things. Our teachers are basically giving us everything on Canvas and we have to depend on ourselves to use our time wisely.”

All across the United States, states have shut down their schools in hope of decreasing the spread of the coronavirus. This abrupt closure of schools has prompted statewide laptop distributions, free breakfast and lunch for students and families and the introduction of distance learning online.

“While it’s unfortunate that the April ACT was canceled, I think it was important that they prioritized public health and I am happy that I have more time to prepare for the rescheduled June ACT,” junior Ella Singer said.

Since students across Broward County are required to learn online, several believe that they have more time and flexibility to prepare for lessons, tests and homework now. On the other hand, students are frustrated that the most recent SAT and ACT have been canceled, and are concerned with how a missed opportunity to take the exam will affect their futures after high school.

“Due to the unfortunate circumstances, I do appreciate the precaution that is being taken by CollegeBoard and the ACT organization, but this, unfortunately, takes away an opportunity that students depend on to improve their scores,” junior Jordan Campbell said. “This testing date that was taken away from us students can greatly affect our future since it is what many rely on to get accepted into colleges and universities.”

Among juniors unable to take the SAT or ACT because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) and End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments will also no longer take place. The Florida Department of Education stated, “Requirements for graduation and promotion, and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments which were canceled did not exist.” Regarding the Florida Bright Futures scholarships, the Florida Department of Education will not use tests not available to be taken and will determine eligibility for the academic scholarship based on available data and results.

“Post quarantine, I feel a lot more freedom in terms of how I study for my tests,” Suresh said. “Usually teachers have a structured curriculum that we are meant to follow, but now I can study my own way that I find most comfortable for me.”

Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie announced Tuesday, March 31, in a news conference that schools will be closed until at least Friday, May 1. Following several weeks of quarantine to come, students are still working hard to maintain their grades. Instead of physically attending school, students are adjusting to learning online.

For the fall 2021 college admission process, a handful of universities have revealed that they will support test optional admission in response to the coronavirus. For instance, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will no longer consider the SAT Subject Tests as a factor in their admissions process. Other schools such as Boston University, Oregon State University and Tufts University will make entrance exams optional as well to lessen the pressure of the future. For eleventh graders at MSD, the long-term effects of what’s to come in regards to the lack of the SAT and ACT, particularly college admissions, will reveal themselves in the upcoming months and school year.

Ivy Lam

Ivy Lam is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is one of the marketing managers of the Genius Bar, a member of DECA and a percussionist in the Eagle Regiment band.

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