Is the Stress On or Off Students Preparing for College?

How juniors are reacting to the effect COVID-19 has on the SATs, ACTs and AP tests

Junior Renee Ritacco pursuing her study skills on future online tests.

Raquel O

Junior Renee Ritacco pursuing her study skills on future online tests.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the SATs for March through May have been cancelled for students at Kinnelon High School as well as several others across the country. Many students worry that they will not be able to take the test in time for college applications because of this cancellation. Others see this postponement as a benefit and are using their time in quarantine to better prepare themselves for the test.  


No one knows how long the pandemic will last, so many students, like junior Victoria Carlson, are concerned about when they can retake the SATs. “It makes me a little stressed not knowing when I’ll be able to take the SAT again. For now I’ll study like I normally do and make sure I am prepared for the proposed tests dates even if that means studying over the summer. It would be unfortunate if all my hard work goes to waste.”


The next SAT is scheduled for June, but students fear that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue into the summer, causing yet another SAT to be canceled. 


Although there is concern for when students will actually be able to take the test, junior Taylor Wittig views the postonment as a positive development.“I am happy they are postponed because it gives me more time to prepare and study for them.” For many students like Wittig, it is a stress reliever to be given more time to prepare, and study for these major academic tests. 


In contrast to the SATs, the AP tests will still be held as scheduled.  Due to COVID-19, the AP tests will be condensed into 45 minute-long online assessments. College Board has also minimized the amount of information each AP test will cover considering students across the nation have had less class time to prepare. This new format starkly contrasts to the typical three-hour version, and has received a variety of responses from students.  


Some students see this as an opportunity to get the best grade possible. For example, for junior Kelly Dunn, these tests work out in her favor. “For me in AP English, my strongest essays were the rhetorical analysis ones and that’s the only thing on the AP Literature test now. Some other essays that were initially in the English AP tests were difficult for me to write, but now I am relieved it is only one, and the one I am personally most comfortable with.”

I could know everything except one topic, or detail, and fail the whole test”

— Katerina O'Neill

Others, however, view this as a missed opportunity to prove their effort in class. Juniors such as Katerina O’Neill feel that the shortened, online versions of the AP tests will not adequately assess their hard work and skill. “I have been working so hard throughout the year and I am disappointed that the AP tests are now online. All of our work is based on those tests and now most of them are only one essay, or one assignment. This means that I could know everything except one topic, or detail, and fail the whole test.” With less questions, every mistake has the potential to lower students’ grades on the AP tests.