My Experience With Standardized Testing During the Pandemic

Alice Nam

It is no secret that this pandemic has affected students’ daily lives, including experiences with the dreaded SAT and ACT. So far, my summer and school year have consisted of cancellations after cancellations; each testing area I have signed up for has canceled my SAT. This exhausting process has left me unmotivated, waiting and studying just so my next test could get canceled. Students would take the test during the typical year, wait for their results, and then decide about their next course of action. However, the constant cancellations and uncertainty have made it challenging to stay motivated to continue preparation. 

During the summer, I had the opportunity to take an in-person SAT course, which I am extremely grateful for since most tutoring and classes were all virtual. In my experience, learning through a computer screen for hours does not help me focus, especially if I had to be glued to my chair for hours taking a standardized test. The learning center strictly followed COVID-19 guidelines, ensuring that all surfaces were sanitized, students’ temperatures were normal, and that everyone had masks on. Classes were almost six hours long, including a full practice test and review of the test each day. Although I am grateful that I even had this chance to engage in learning, I found myself worn out by the end of the day. There were strictly no breaks or snack time because of social distancing rules. 

Fortunately, I was able to take the SAT in September; however, I am still unable to take my second SAT since all testing centers are closing. Although I have never taken the SAT prior, I would have never imagined taking it with a mask. Many students expressed that their test-taking experience, especially those in the brutal summer weather, was certainly not ideal. These circumstances of having to leave the cafeteria for a drink of water and sitting in the classroom for hours in a mask can take a toll on students’ performance. Consequently, when students do not perform as they had hoped, it can also put you in a negative mindset regarding wanting to try again and continue to study. Trying to keep up with the changing test dates and cancellations has created a lot of chaos and uncertainty as students are unsure of when they will finally be able to take the test and if they should even be taking the time to prepare. Above all, it is important to stay safe during this unprecedented time, which includes keeping our masks on, but I have to admit that taking the SAT with a mask was not an easy task. Never would I have imagined that I would be hoping and waiting to have the ability to take the SAT, but this is the reality, and I hope to have the opportunity to get into a testing location sometime soon.