Canceled SATs Frustrate Students


Graphic by Kelly Donahue

COVID-19 has had a heavy impact on students’ ability to take the SAT in the past year and a half, closing many testing locations sometimes within a few days of the scheduled test date.

All the closures and cancellations have been a source of stress for many students at Palos Verdes High School.

As a result of the pandemic, many colleges and universities made the decision to be test-optional on their applications.

Some, including all of the UC schools, even opted to be test-blind, meaning they don’t take test scores into account when reviewing applications.

Some schools are continuing to stay test-optional for the foreseeable future, while others are starting to require the test scores again.

The test center closures and SAT cancellations make it very difficult for high school seniors who have not taken the test to get their scores in time for the rapidly approaching application deadlines.

Senior Quentin Ruiz, who had his SAT cancelled less than 48 hours before he was supposed to take it, believes that the cancellations “will impact [his] admissions process much more than people think,” because he will not get his test scores back until close to the application deadlines.

Students are feeling frustrated as they continue having to prepare for the test with the uncertainty of whether or not they will be able to take the test looming over their heads.

Senior Izzy Farrow has had seven of her SATs cancelled and has prepared for each of the SATs she signed up to take.

“It gets tiring every time it does [get cancelled] because it’s like doing work for no reward,” Farrow said.

Like Farrow, Ruiz had his preparations impacted by the cancellation of his test.

“All of the studying was super fresh in my mind and the exam was scheduled to be just a week after my prep finished,” Ruiz said.

“But now that I’m taking it significantly later, I fear that I will be unprepared and out of practice for the actual test.”

While preparing for her SAT, junior Alex Donell was also preparing for the possibility that her test might get cancelled because she had friends taking the test at different sites who had their test cancelled less than 24 hours before they were supposed to take it.

In the event that her test was cancelled, Donell would have “rescheduled to take it in October so that if [she] didn’t like [her] score [she] would still have plenty of time to take another test in the spring.”

However, Donell was able to take the first test that she registered for.

For students that have been frustrated by the SAT cancellations or worried about what the cancellations might mean for them, Joanne Lewis, director of the College and Career Center, believes that, “unless a student can produce an exceptionally strong test score that is well above their academic rigor and performance as indicated on their transcript, and is well above the mid-range scores of the colleges they’re applying to, [she] would say forget the test. Stop stressing and focus on your schoolwork, your college apps, getting enough sleep and staying happy and healthy.”

Just as Lewis recommended, Farrow has been “focusing on the things [she] can control like extracurriculars, essays, etc.”

Lewis’s advice to students who are preparing to take the test during this uncertain time is “not to spend too much time, if any at all, prepping for the test. Spend time doing the things you love to do — discover or try new things you might enjoy or are of interest to you.