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Coronavirus and College: The future of testing for college admissions

Posted at 11:07 AM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 15:55:57-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The high school experience has changed for so many students, and now many students and families are wondering what impact the changes may have on college applications.

Changes like not having standardized exams, such as the SAT, are causing some students to prepare for applications differently this year.

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“I do wanna go somewhere in California – I've been looking at UC schools,” Paige Furin said.

Paige is a junior going into her senior year at Coronado High School. She says she has been a good student throughout her years in high school.

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Even though the SAT was canceled for classes, she is still studying virtually using practice exams and worksheets online to stay ahead.

“You know the junior year is always kinda the big year in preparing for college," said Furin's mom, Susan DeVito. "Whether its academically or athletically, and we have both."

DeVito says before the pandemic her daughter was playing tennis and hoping to get a scholarship, but with the changes they are staying flexible.

“We’re actually currently working hard to make SAT’s available in schools as well as out of schools, as soon as public health situations allow,” said Roxanne Pirayesh, director at the College Board. She says, the board is aiming for in-person SAT testing starting in August.

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“One of the plans to support students is by adding additional administrations of the weekend SAT’s starting in August," Pirayesh said. "Every month through the end of the calendar year there would be [SAT] administering on a Saturday."

But in the event schools do not open in the fall, the college board will provide a digital SAT test for students to take home.

“We are going to ensure that the at-home SAT testing is simple and secure and fair," Pirayesh said. "And that its accessible to everyone and also that’s it's going to be valid for college admission.”

The board is staying tight lipped about the security measures they will take in order to ensure the test stays secure.

“What most intuitions have done is they’ve said, 'Look if you haven’t been able to a test, done worry about it. We’ll make it work,'” said Steve McKellips, the associate vice president of enrollment and student services at UNLV. He says UNLV understands this is an unusual time for students and the university will remain flexible with its students.

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“It's important to know that an application for admission to a university is a 4-year comprehensive assessment of a person's ability,” said McKellips. “This pandemic is a 4 to 6-week phenomenon, but we still have 3 and half years to 4 years of learning what kind of student, what capabilities a student has in terms of their ability to handle college-level work.”

His advice for students is to contact the colleges and universities you’re interested in directly and start a conversation now. Schools should have resources available to help guide and prepare students.

“Bottom line, we’re trying to find students who can handle the college rigor of the class," he said. "That’s going to always be important the universities. To make sure that the students who get here can do the work."

For now, Furin and her family say they’re going to focus on keeping up with tennis, and virtual school visits.

“Everyone's going through the same thing, so I'm not too stressed about it,” Furin said.

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The college board is expected to make more standardized testing announcements at the end of the month.

On May 11, they kicked off digital AP exams and administered them to around 3 million students.

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