Opinion: Virtualize, Shorten Standardized Testing


Media by Liza Cooper

The ACT and SAT are both difficult and time-consuming standardized tests. With the SAT going virtual, I think this should decrease a lot of stress for students preparing to take the test.

When I took the ACT test for the first time, I stared at the clock and watched the minutes pass by. 

My foot was tapping excessively, my hands were shaking and I worried about transferring over answers from my packet to the Scantron. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the College Board announced that the SAT test will be fully virtual, starting in 2024, for students in the United States. The duration of the test also will be shortened from three hours to two.

According to an article by CNBC, 80 percent of students who took the pilot test, given in November 2021, found the virtual test to be less stressful, and I too think a virtual SAT will be a beneficial change for many students.

I have taken the ACT test two times: first in June of 2021 and then again in October of 2021. I sat at a desk for four hours with only two five-minute breaks to walk around or get a sip of water. If I wasn’t stressed before, sitting in the same chair staring at the same book for four hours only made it worse. 

The ACT, like the SAT, is an extremely rigorous test. It did not matter how much studying or preparation I did, I never felt fully prepared. 

Although I have not taken the SAT, the ACT and SAT are similar standardized tests for students preparing for college. 

Shortening the SAT will benefit students. For me, one of the hardest parts of taking a standardized test like the SAT is staying focused and awake. If the SAT is shortened to only two hours, there is a much greater chance of students staying focused, and subsequently, achieving better scores. 

Both standardized tests are common in college admissions and each measures students’ proficiency levels in various subject areas needed for college success.

It is ridiculous that a score teenagers receive, while under such a high pressure situation, can determine their futures. 

For this reason, I am always anxious the night before taking a big test like the ACT or SAT. Studies show that students who have low anxiety going into a test acquire higher scores on a test, according to an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Because the virtual SAT test is now a shorter duration, a lot of students, including myself, will be slightly less anxious going into the test, which could improve test scores by many points.