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Elle Chen

Junior Mia Schubert shares the struggles and concerns about testing impacted by COVID-19.

Mia Schubert

Q: So you were telling me that coronavirus has really impacted testing (AP, ACT, SAT, etc). What tests were you going to take before this whole thing started, and how has that been impacted now?

Well, I was going to retake my SAT and try and to get a better score, and also take it with essay in May. And I was going to take my SAT subject test in June because they won’t let you take both the SAT and Subject Tests on the same date. And now they’ve canceled the SAT for both May and March. It gives me more time to study for the official SAT because it’s been pushed back, for me at least, until June. But also, I won’t have a secure understanding if I can, for sure, take the Subject Tests. Because the last testing date is June for this official year and I don’t know that they’re going to for sure offer subject tests in August because that hasn’t been released yet. They did offer it last year in August, but I just don’t know for sure if they’re gonna offer it this year.

Q: How many times have you taken the SAT? And how does COVID-19 change the ways of testing?
[COVID-19] doesn’t impact [testing] a ton [for me]. To answer your question, I only took it once and I was pretty happy with my score, I was just wanting to see what’s the best I could possibly get. And I also was looking to take the essay if possible, because I want to see what I can get on that, because I didn’t take the essay the first time.

Q: As far as subject tests go. Is that something you see as really necessary or how do you feel about the fact that you might not be able to take it?
I definitely think that the main SAT, at least for me personally, I think that it’s more important to get a solidly good score on that as far as college entrance goes. I feel like [the SAT] is more important than subject tests but I would really love to have the opportunity to take subject tests to show knowledge on the subjects that I’m really interested and passionate about. If I had the opportunity, that’s just something that I would really love to show off, using the skills that I have.

Q: What topics were you going to take them on?
I’m pretty much undecided, but I think definitely math, probably Spanish, maybe English and maybe US History.

Q: Are you spending a lot of time at home studying?
The majority of my time right now at home in terms of studying, I’m studying for the AP, which has also been affected by COVID-19. I’m studying the most for that right now because it’s coming up the soonest. It’s happening in May, and it’s going to be online.

Q: Can you go more into how the AP is being affected by coronavirus?
For sure. So I’m taking AP US History. Obviously AP exams cannot be conducted in the way they normally are every year, where every school does them at the same time with all the students in the same room- that can’t happen. So, College Board has basically adapted every single test so that it can be taken online. The AP is all free-response this year, and it’s only 45 minutes. Whereas in years past, depending on the subject, the AP was usually several hours, and contained multiple choice, free response, and an essay. But now, it’s only 45 minutes long and it’s essentially free response, like one unique question, at least for US History. So, at least for this test that I am taking, [the changes] really narrow it down so that I feel like I’m not really being scored on my total understanding of the subject as a whole. I’m only to really be tested on, do I happen to understand this one thing that they’re asking about, and not my total understanding of all the things I’ve learned throughout the year.

Q: So how are you taking the new format into account when you’re studying?
I’m definitely focusing less on the traditional tools that the AP textbooks are giving me. So I’m focusing less on the multiple choice and getting those right. I’m focusing more on like the broad, general, “Do I understand these concepts? How does this impact the decisions that were made?” Just a broader understanding. Also I have to take into account the fact that College Board isn’t testing us on a couple units. They’ve actually taken away units from the end of the year, because they’re assuming that we’re not going to have such a good grasp on those because we’re not in traditional school.

Q: How does the AP and College Board’s response to COVID-19 compared to the SAT?
I understand that their main concern with the SAT was cheating. You can’t really take that SAT online without a proctor present because they’re going to be really afraid that people are going to cheat. I understand that and I feel like that’s why they didn’t come up with a way to take it at home because there have been times in the past where people have cheated on the SAT. So I feel like that’s why the SAT decided to just cancel the test, push things back. They might come up with makeup tests, we don’t really know yet. Then with College Board, I feel like because of the way their tests are designed in comparison to the SAT it’s a lot less standardized at least per each subject. So because of the way they’re set up, they’re able to create these free response ways that students can go about taking the test. It creates this way, where you can’t really cheat. Or I hope people don’t cheat. People can take it at home and send it in. You’ve written and hopefully can be scored on an equal basis.

Q: Yeah, because if it’s free response, it could be unequally scored right?
Yeah. The thing about that subject test is it is on percentile. And it is free response so it’s a little bit harder to standardize who got what right, who understands the concepts greater. I feel like there’s a problem with that just because when you have multiple choice questions there is some padding.

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