SAT on a Tumbleweed

By Claire Daquino

SAT: to take it, or not to take it. Throughout quarantine, this dilemma has lingered in the minds of high school juniors and seniors across the country. 

As we all know, COVID cases across the country continue to rise, yet the beloved college board has proved merciless throughout the pandemic. As we all saw, the billion-dollar organization made sure that AP tests could be taken online. However, the College Board has failed to make these same accommodations for the SAT. Although over 1500 colleges have announced applications will be test-optional, it remains unclear whether lacking a test score will truly have no impact on admissions. Thus, to maximize chances of acceptance, students continue to do everything possible to take the tests they have studied so hard for.

Personally, I took the SAT in July in the oh so lovely desert town of Fallon, Nevada. To paint a picture for you, my dad and I encountered numerous tumbleweeds and a dust devil on the drive there. Neither the front desk worker at my hotel, nor the shoppers in the Safeway chose to wear masks. Now, regarding the subject of the risks of testing during a pandemic, very few precautions were taken. Masks during the test were not required, and students jumped at the opportunity to free their faces. Although the seats were relatively spaced out, this still put each person in that classroom at risk. Not to mention, very few of the students in that room were from Fallon and therefore, the germs exchanged in that room were carried to numerous cities in the surrounding states.

As we stay in our liberal bay area bubble, we do not see the carelessness regarding the pandemic in other states. Luckily, California remains more cautious with their regulations regarding covid, so our test centers are more likely to close. Thus, students feel an obligation to drive hours, or even fly, to take the SAT. Travel for these tests, not only puts the students themselves at risk, but everyone in their hometowns as well, as this only spreads unnecessary germs from less careful areas. Not to mention, travel is not an option for many students, as this puts immunocompromised students at a fatal risk.

As of September first, Judge Seligman of Alameda County issued an injunction forbidding all UCs from using any test data in their admissions process. In order to eliminate the risks raised by traveling hundreds of miles to find open testing locations, and to keep admissions fair for all students, colleges must all follow suit and announce that testing is not optional, but rather, scores will not be taken into consideration. Sadly, the College Board may lose out on some money, but on the bright side, countless lives will be spared.