To prioritize the health and safety of all students and teachers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the College Board announced new guidelines for the upcoming SAT and AP exams on their website, including allowing test centers and students to cancel testing and SAT registrations along with the enforcement of COVID-19 public health guidelines. To save instruction and class time for discussion and collaboration, they also started a video series titled AP Daily on Sept. 1.
Local SAT centers across the nation canceled over 178,000 Aug. 29 student exams over concerns of safety from the COVID-19 virus. The College Board provided alternative options for affected students on Aug. 19. However, the cancelations raise concerns for students who are completing Fall 2021 college applications, such as senior David Tran.
“I applied to take the August SAT,” Tran said, “but my exam was canceled. The best-case scenario is for me to take the October SAT as my first SAT, but I am worried that it’ll also be canceled. As a senior, I find it extremely stressful that the SAT has such a limited amount of spots, because although many college admissions are now test-optional, we seniors will need to have other qualifications to stay competitive.”
The College Board stated on its website that for the first time, students may cancel their SATs or transfer to other testing dates free of charge. It is also requiring test administrators to firstly survey students for symptoms of COVID-19, seat students 6 feet apart, and require them to wear facial coverings. Senior Diana Orozco, who is planning to take the SAT this year, has doubts regarding in-person testing.
“The SAT takes a while to complete,” Orozco said. “In-person testing shouldn’t be permitted, because of the amount of time of exposure you would have with other people. The guidelines do not assure me that the environment will be a safe place to test, because we are still seeing people in critical conditions due to the virus.”
The College Board has not yet made changes to the AP curriculums, despite students’ and teachers’ negative sentiments toward distance learning. Students fear they will be unable to fully prepare for the exams, including sophomore Jasmine Luong who is taking her first AP class, AP World History.
”I don’t know what the workload will be like since it’s online,” Luong said. “Not only that, but, it’s hard to have class via Zoom without any physical examples. I’m not in-person to ask the teacher questions, and I’m too shy to ask in front of class, so I have to either wait for office hours or email him/her.”
Despite not being able to take AP Chemistry in-person, which requires certain in-class instruction, such as labs, junior Jessy Garcia does not believe distance learning will impede on his ability to learn the course material.
“Distance learning is new for all of us; it’s definitely a change, but I think it’s a matter of doing things on your own, being mature, and being true to yourself on what lessons you need to work on,” Garcia said. “Deadlines come and go, so you have to be on top of things to make sure you turn in things on time.”
The College Board collaborated with AP teachers around the country to provide free, subject-specific YouTube lectures to students, which started on Sept. 1. As the College Board continues to monitor the conditions of the pandemic, SAT and AP guidelines are subject to change. However, The College Board aims to maintain “health and safety” as its top priorities.