College Board considers moving admissions tests online

Julia Winski, Staff Writer

Every year, high school juniors all over America have to take standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT before they apply to colleges. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, people have been wondering how high schoolers will be able to complete these exams before being accepted into any colleges.


Due to this setback, more than two dozen universities announced that standardized testing would be optional for people enrolling in 2021. However, the majority of schools are still requiring the SAT and ACT and the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the officials of SAT and ACT to develop digital versions of their tests since schools will potentially remain closed. 


“The organization’s primary concern at this time is the health and safety of students and its testing staff. Their mission compels them to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to take the standardized test, particularly now as other admission information, such as grades, courses, and GPA, will have to be taken into consideration,” assessment supervisor Julie Chybicki-Zimmer said. 


However, people fear the online version of this exam might have a lot of disadvantages.


“Even the possibility brought stark warnings from critics and testing experts, who said at-home tests could exacerbate inequality, raise privacy issues and make it easier to cheat,” Anemona Hartocollis and Dana Goldstein authors of “Students might have to take college admissions tests at home this fall” from New York Times said (April 15,2020).


Lower-income students already face disadvantages when it comes to testing, including a lack of access to private tutors, study guides and other means more available to wealthier students that have a higher chance of scoring better. Forcing all students to take a high-stakes test at home could put lower income students at an even further disadvantage. 


“Every student has a different household and some low income students may be struggling with having internet access or having a quiet place to study,” junior Angela Perez said.


Since a large majority of Americans have trouble getting school resources  directly at home, this places a strain in their success rates on these exams.


However, some colleges were already moving to not require the SAT/ACT for admissions before the pandemic because of equity concerns. This can positively impact communities as many feel like the SAT/ACT doesn’t show peoples full knowledge and potential.


If universities do decide to stick with requiring the SAT/ACT to be taken in order for admission, then they can use proctoring websites, such as Proctorio, that can watch students’ screens, and listen to their microphone while they are taking the exam. It is simple to use and confidential to where you know when the Chrome extension is using your microphone, screen or camera.


College board describes this plan will lock down everything else in your computer. 


“The camera and microphone are on, and can detect any movement in the room. If the parents are in there, next to them, that would be detected,” The College Board’s president Jeremy Singer said.


This definitely causes lots of privacy concerns with how much they are  watching you.


“I think these are precautions. They’re trying to make sure that the test is fair for everybody and that no one cheats but it does feel nerve wracking thinking about the fact that there’s going to be someone watching me while I take one of the most important tests of my high school career,” Perez said after precautions.


While this whole pandemic is going on, Zoom, the popular webcam app that allows you to connect online with your classes, has also been a concern for many people because of privacy issues, but many education institutions find this app necessary to provide online communication when we can’t be in a physical classroom.


“With zoom and now the SAT/ACT tests being recorded, it’s weird that everything is being recorded nowadays, and it’s kind of scary to think about,” junior Ruth Ramos said.


The SAT/ACT centers have been exploring the option of remote proctoring for some time since it would be the only way they can make sure people aren’t cheating.


“They launch this experience to provide greater access to the test for students but also to uphold critical aspects of test security and score validity for colleges and scholarship organizations,” Chybicki-Zimmer said.


With the possibility of having to take these tests at home, students are wondering how these tests will compare to taking them on paper.

“I’m just worried about how my scores will turn out if I take it at home,” Ramos said.