Navigating Changes to the Standardized Testing System

By Anne Huntington

Author: Anne Huntington, President

As we look ahead to the coming school year, families and educators can expect to continue to see a shift in the way learning is implemented across the US as a result of the ongoing COVID pandemic. From expanded online learning to extended school closures, the effects of the pandemic on our educational system will continue to unfold even as we enter the new academic year in the fall of 2020.  

No one has all of the answers as to what this coming school year will completely look like due to the pandemic, but at Huntington, we promise to stay ahead of the curve on the latest developments and how they’ll impact our students, and to continue to provide the best education possible. We know that the ‘COVID Slide’ is real, and that students may lose over a year’s worth of learning due to the disruptions from the pandemic, which is why it is important to continue to build academic skills throughout the summer to prepare for the upcoming school year and for upcoming standardized tests. 

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is on the standardized testing front. SAT and ACT testing for our high school students has been disrupted by test date cancellations and postponements. Universities and colleges are rethinking how heavily they will weigh standardized test scores now and in the future due in part to limited access to exam dates and testing facilities. 

Even so, experts expect that testing will become widely available again as soon as August for the SAT and September for the ACT, so it’s important to make sure that test prep is part of summer plans for students preparing for college, which are typically rising high school juniors and seniors. Parents and high school students should check with their local SAT/ACT scheduling resources, namely the official websites for both tests because the information changes constantly. It is critical to have the most recent information on important dates like test availability and registration deadlines, many of which fall in the summer months. And, with high volumes of students needing to reschedule their exams, there is the potential that students may experience delays securing a future test date. Therefore, we recommend sophomores start to think about these exams to set themselves up for success as well. 

For our families enrolled in Huntington, we help them navigate this changing landscape to guide them to the right decisions - is a standardized test the right option, do we need to focus on grades, how is the college application looking, what are the student’s goals are some of the questions we go through. We help our students make sure they make the right decisions for themselves, because with so much disruption happening all around, we need to ensure our students know that we are here to help. 

Families and students should also familiarize themselves with the various application components for the student’s desired colleges and keep in touch with those admissions offices throughout the summer so the student is aware of any updates the school may decide to implement along the way. While many universities and colleges are beginning to embrace test-blind and test-optional policies, the SAT and ACT continue to be vital tools for building a strong college application. 

As we wait for new testing opportunities to become available, we suggest that students focus on other elements of the application. Brainstorming essay ideas and putting together an outline is a great starting point, and Huntington’s certified teachers and tutors are prepared to help you navigate writing roadblocks along the way in addition to subject specific tutoring and homework help. Additionally, students can begin outreach to teachers, coaches, mentors and others for letters of recommendation, which can help bolster their application.  

We are currently enrolling students in our SAT, ACT and subject matter test programs, so connect with your local Huntington Learning Center to get your child signed up today for a better tomorrow.