The Covid 19 pandemic put the whole world into lockdown in the year 2020. It also brought forward the inability of educational institutions and their governing bodies to adapt to new conditions. The old model of assessments and exams being followed for many years couldn’t stand the test of time. Inability to host physical exams due to social distancing measures meant that students were losing out on final exams, board exams, and college entrances. This made examiners realize how important it is to revise their syllabus and testing methods to cater to a changing world’s needs.
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What is the SAT exam?
The Scholastic Assessment Test is a standardized exam of the US which tests high school graduates for college entrances. Based on their SAT scores, fresh high school graduates can secure a seat in their choice of the university across the United States of America. Major Ivy League universities, as well as state universities all, offer admissions based on SAT scores.
The SAT exam is three hours long with extra 50 minutes for an essay. Most of the paper consists of multi-choice questions to be answered with a pencil on an OMR sheet. Three sections are comprising of math, analytical reading, and writing, plus an optional essay. The highest possible score is 1600. Students with the highest scores can secure multiple offers from different universities. A good SAT score is essential to get admission into a good USA college for under graduation program. Besides your SAT scores, extracurricular activities, letter of recommendation, and personal interviews also play a significant role in the admission process.
Hardships faced by students appearing for SAT in 2020
The SATs were scheduled to take place during September and October of 2020. This test is mandatory for both domestic and international students seeking admission to USA based universities. Over 300,000 candidates had registered for each time slot, but more than fifty percent failed to appear for the exam. In the wake of Covid 19, nearly 40 percent of testing centers were not open. Due to limited capacity, the College Board that oversees the exam stated that they would not accommodate all candidates. Due to a shortage of testing spaces, many students had to be turned away. The College Board and educators across the country hope to make the situation a little better for students appearing for SAT across the USA in the upcoming months.
The College Board has urged Universities to consider extreme difficulties faced by students in this pandemic year. Students who have failed to secure a testing center due to limited capacity can receive a full refund and appear for the upcoming time slot. Students are also requested to wear a mask to their test and abide by all Covid 19 guidelines. In these challenging times, some colleges have made an exception to consider admissions without valid SAT scores, which is a relief. Hopefully, more colleges will follow the same policy, which will make the admission process a tad bit simpler for the students this year.
Revised rules of SAT examination post-pandemic
As the world moves towards online education, the College Board has decided to do away with some old and redundant practices. As we have previously discussed, along with MCQ questions, there is an optional essay section on the SAT exam. This lengthy 50-minute section is to be done away from the June sessions of SAT 2021 as per recent notice from the College Board. According to leading educators, if exams are to be made accessible remotely, such lengthy question patterns need to be eliminated.
Further, the College Board has added that the SATs are not the best measure of student aptitude. The test only consists of few selected subjects that are not enough to judge students’ overall quality. They have also acknowledged efforts from students who have traveled to other states to secure a seat for SAT. This has also resulted in some contracting Covid 19 during the process. Student grievances have led the College Board members to decide on eliminating the easy section of the exam for the future.
Changing attitude of colleges towards SAT
Over the years less and fewer colleges have required the subject tests as part of their admission criteria. After the Covid 19 pandemic, fewer than five colleges in the USA have still kept SAT subject tests as mandatory requirements. The colleges have unanimously decided to judge students based on other parameters as nationwide testing becomes impossible. The lack of demand among students to sit for SAT subject tests has led the Board to discontinue the subject tests finally. The lack of demand coupled with the high cost of testing justifies their decision in the long run.
It is no surprise that both optional essay and subject tests are to be discontinued permanently. The optional essay portion was introduced due to pressure from California University in 2005. Both these sections have proven to be insufficient and inadequate measures of testing. These new changes will come as a relief to college aspirants and take the pressure off of them.
Future of education in the USA
The pandemic and new presidential election have changed the course of history in the USA in more ways than one. As the global student community faces a gap in their education, policymakers try to imbibe new rules that facilitate distance and remote learning. The simplification of SAT exam is one bold step taken for the benefit of students. Considering the chaos faced in 2020 during SATs, it is the need of the hour.
We hope that domestic and international students studying in the USA can return to their university to continue their education as soon as possible. Also, these new SAT rules will help future generations seeking admissions in more ways than one. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us to be more receptive and ready to adapt to this dynamic world.