Juniors take a seat -but not at the SAT

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SAT tests across the country are being cancelled with late notice and sometimes no notice to students.

Gabrielle Jenkins, Co-Editor in Chief

Close your eyes and imagine for a few seconds that “corona” isn’t a thing. Everyone’s in school and getting adjusted to the new year. If you’re a junior, you may be thinking it’s about time to take the SAT to see what skills you need to brush up on before taking it and sending the scores off to colleges. Not a bad idea! It’s good to plan ahead and start early, especially if you’re trying to get into your dream college. But now, open your eyes and let reality hit you in the face again. Corona is a thing; a pandemic is still happening whether you feel like it is or not. Things are not normal right now. Because of that, if you’re not a senior, you should not be taking the SAT right now. And I’m going to tell you why, by sharing my story.

When corona hit the United States in March, everyone was in panic mode. Everything was shut down, and nobody really knew what was going on. Thankfully for some, a March SAT was given right before all of this happened. Feeling unprepared, I didn’t sign up for the SAT in March but rather the one in May. This was inevitably cancelled, so I immediately signed up for the SAT in June. Around the end of April, College Board sent out an email saying that all summer dates for the SAT would be cancelled. I thought to myself “Oh, crap!” and immediately started to panic. How was I going to apply to college without any scores? In July, College Board finally reopened registration for the SAT, and I was able to sign up for August 29. I thought that was the end of that, but surprise! I was wrong.

I signed up to take my test at East Forsyth. At the beginning of August, I received another email from College Board saying my testing center has cancelled their administration of the SAT. I could either transfer my registration to another school, or to the next test date, which was in October.

I decided I’d try and transfer to another test center. The only two left within a 50 mile radius were in King and Lexington. I signed up for the one in King because I knew Stokes County was going back to school, so I figured they would be least likely to cancel. That Saturday morning, I left my house at 6:45, and drove 45 minutes to West Stokes High School to take my test. I had finally done it.

Up until August 29, the last given SAT in the US was on March 14, five months ago. Many seniors are scrambling to get scores right now. It’s not that we are lazy and didn’t plan ahead; I planned to take mine in May. But there are limited testing centers. Many have or will have to cancel their tests, or reduce their capacity. If they do reduce capacity, College Board has no guaranteed way to know or let others know about this. One of my friends said her test was cancelled on the spot when she got to the testing center because they had reduced capacity. Now she has to wait until October. Let’s not forget about misadministrations. If that happens during your test, your scores are cancelled, and you have to wait until the next available date when College Board will allow you to take your test.

If you’re a junior who signs up for the SAT this year, you’re potentially taking a seat away from a senior who really needs to take it. Yes, many colleges are going test-optional this year, but if a college has a choice between a kid with scores and a kid without scores, realistically, who do you think they’re going to take? If it wasn’t for corona, I would 1000 percent say go for it if you’re a junior. It’s unfair to you all, but it’s also unfair to us, even more so, as it can directly impact our futures. If you’re a junior who wants to get in some practice, I highly recommend picking up an official College Board SAT Practice Test book for about $20 from Barnes and Noble (also sold on Amazon). It’s got eight full length practice tests (including essays), with an explanation for every single question on why it’s correct and why the other answers are incorrect. It’s almost better than taking the actual SAT for practice, because you get much more for only $20, as opposed to the $60-80 you would be charged if you took the real thing. You can also use Khan Academy which has thousands of free SAT practice questions.

Put yourself in a senior’s shoes. How would you feel if you’re struggling to find a test date and get scores, because a bunch of people who can’t even apply to college yet are taking up all the seats? This is an uncertain and unfair time for all of us, but please don’t make it any harder for seniors right now.