Staff Editorial: SAT Testing During A Pandemic

On Sept. 23, North held the SAT for seniors, in the middle of a pandemic. What exactly was taking a standardized test like during COVID-19? And considering some colleges are waiving it as an application requirement, what is the purpose? 

Due to COVID-19, it has been very difficult for seniors to schedule SAT testing dates. Prescheduled SAT dates were canceled this year because accommodations to make the location safe could not be done. We feel that the process was much more complicated than it should have been and normally is. 

In our opinion, considering the annoying process that is getting SAT testing times, we are happy that North was able to administer the SAT. Taking the SAT somewhere else comes with a fee, around $60. We are glad that North gave students the opportunity to take the test, especially if not all families can afford to pay for extra testing days at this time. 

Taking the SAT at North also creates some level of comfort because it is familiar. It’s not a school that you have never been to before, where you are surrounded by unfamiliar people. It’s a place you know, with people you know. 

That being said, testing anywhere during COVID-19 creates a new level of stress that isn’t normally there. Sure, everyone is nervous to take the test, but this year there is the added concern of our health and safety. We feel that it can also be distracting, wondering, is the person sitting next to me wearing a mask? Or are they actually sitting six feet away? These worries, we feel, could have a negative impact on test scores. 

Besides simply our concerns and observations about taking the test, we are also wondering about the real purpose of taking the SAT. A very large number of universities have waived the SAT as an application requirement this year. 

For the 2020-2021 fall admission cycle, more than one-half of all bachelor-degree granting colleges have waived SAT/ACT scores. In fact, all of the Ivy League schools have dropped the SAT/ACT requirements for the graduating class of 2025. However, some have only made this exception for this year’s admissions. 

This forces us to wonder: If colleges can just disregard the SAT, how important has it ever been? And what importance does it really have now, besides being a graduation requirement?

Illinois is one of only 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, that requires all high school students to take the SAT to graduate. We understand that the reason behind this rule is to give all students an opportunity to take the SAT, but considering that the SAT is becoming less of a priority and not as important to our academic careers, is it really that necessary?

We are in the middle of a pandemic, of course testing is not going to look the same. But considering the decreasing importance of the SAT, we want to know why Illinois feels the need to require all seniors to take the SAT. 

The purpose of the staff editorial is to start a conversation. The editorial topic and stance are discussed and agreed on by all members of the editorial board. While only one editor writes the article and the editorial may not represent each editor’s opinion 100%, it does represent an editorial consensus. Again, the purpose is discussion. Let us know what you think through Twitter @SCNNewspaper and email at [email protected].