The Impact of COVID on Standardized Testing

Joey Li, Grade 11, Journalism Student

As students and educators adapt to a COVID-19 school year, the College Board has made significant changes to their standardized tests. Many students rely on the College Board tests to distinguish themselves in their college applications, and colleges rely on these tests to evaluate applicants.


To prioritize the health and safety of students and educators, the College Board has decided to limit testing capacity in many areas and has closed many sites unexpectedly before the test, citing safety reasons.


“I have been registering for the SATs since September, and it's been canceled for me within short notice each time. Once, it was canceled three days before my test date,” said Oscar Calamari-Abrams, a junior at Bronx Science High School.


In addition to limited SAT testing, the College Board has decided to discontinue SAT subject tests altogether in order to “reduce demands on students.” Before this, many colleges had required or strongly recommended taking SAT subject tests, but after the cancellation, most have switched to test-optional.


“I took the Bio SAT II in Freshman Year because I was told that it was necessary for some schools and that it would look better on my college application,” said Becca Boroda, a junior. “I was not in any way prepared for the test and I think that canceling that subject tests will impact the students in a positive way.”


However, for other students, the cancellation of the SAT subject tests has had a negative impact. According to Jennifer Ji, a junior at Stuyvesant High School, “I was planning on taking SAT II subject tests like Physics, Chemistry, Math 2, and US History as a supplement score for my college application and to replace any AP courses that were not available to me. I feel annoyed that it’s been canceled since I thought it would look better on my college applications.”


The College Board has also made significant changes to their AP tests since last year. The 2020 AP tests were shortened and entirely online, but the 2021 AP Exam schedule has been separated into three different administrations for each subject between early May and mid-June.


In administration one, the test will be administered in person for all subjects. In administration two, half of the subjects will be administered in person and half will be full-length digital exams administered at home or in school. In the last administration, subjects will be full-length digital exams only.


Noa Greenehouvras, a freshman, commented, “I don’t know a ton about this subject… I think this year [the tests] should probably be shortened because we can’t really expect students to learn as much over online school than they would in person.”


Furthermore, music theory and foreign language subjects must be administered in-person to prevent cheating, which came as a big surprise to many students.


“I feel like learning in person would have been better for my score than learning online,” stated Silas Fleissig, a junior. “AP Spanish is a course that is hard to learn online. It is definitely a class where you have to be fully immersed in learning the language, and it is harder to do that over Zoom.”

“I find it really stressful that we’re going to be taking the AP Spanish exam in person because we have spent the whole year online and it’s unfair to now expect students to come and take it in person,” said Saira Pannu, a sophomore.


Learning online has also impacted Saira. “I’ve gotten so used to procrastinating because working at home doesn’t give the same environment for focus that school gives,” she said. “I also feel like it can be difficult to ask questions on Zoom so I often don’t always get clarification on things I’m confused about, making certain topics more difficult to understand.”


“With online school, I just have not been learning and retaining the information like I used to,” said Sophie Fishman, a senior. “I’m not even sure I have the stamina to take a full-length test.”

The impact of COVID-19 on standardized College Board tests has been frustrating for many students. Though the College Board intended to relieve demands for students, many have found that it has had the opposite effect.

Art by Joey Li, Grade 11

This year, due to changes caused by the pandemic, students were left stressing over the changes made to standardized tests by the College Board.