School to host SAT for juniors in April

School to host SAT for juniors in April

In the wake of recent test center closures due to the pandemic, Palo Alto High School will be hosting an SAT on April 13 for all interested juniors, scores from which will be eligible to be submitted to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. 

Assistant Principal Margaret Reynolds announced Feb. 19. via a Schoology message that participating Paly students will be eligible for consideration for the National Merit Semifinalist status. 

Many Palo Alto High School juniors are looking forward to the opportunity to take an in-person sitting of the SAT hosted by the school on April 13. Junior Emily Yao said that she is glad her months of preparation aren’t going to waste. “I’m glad Paly decided to offer it,” Yao said. “I had been studying for the test even before schools closed, and I don’t want my studying efforts to end up going towards nothing.” Photo: Madison Abbassi

According to Reynolds, Paly administrators chose to host the SAT to give students the opportunity to at least have one standardized test score under their belt, whether or not they choose to send it to colleges.

“Our director of secondary education, Ms. Laurence, chose the April 13 test date after careful consideration of health and safety and the need for juniors to have SAT test scores,” Reynolds stated. “Because Paly and Gunn are not registered testing sites, we had to go with the SAT School Day option to be able to administer the SAT test on-site.”

Students who decide to participate are expected to report to their third period classrooms at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 13, with #2 pencils, erasers, a calculator (scientific or graphing), and lunch/snacks. Students with testing accommodations will likely be reporting to alternate locations and may take the test over a two-day period. 

Students will be required to wear face masks during the testing session and while on campus. The district’s COVID-19 safety and screening protocol mandates that seats will be placed six feet apart for social distancing and that classrooms will have ventilation.

Junior Audrey Teo said that this SAT testing location is a lot more convenient and less of a hassle to deal with because of its location.

“All of the previous SATs I’ve signed up for or considered signing up for are at least an hour away,” Teo said. “I know some people have driven for hours just to take it, which is incredibly tiresome, stressful and unnecessary.”

Despite this, Teo said she still feels unsafe being surrounded in a classroom with other classmates, even when safety protocol is enforced, because of the potential risk it has on students’ health.

“I’m kind of worried about taking an in-person test with so many other people,” Teo said. “It’s easy to forget about COVID when you’re with other people because it feels so normal. I’m worried that the change in testing environment will negatively affect my score.”

Joondeph finds that this SAT will be extremely helpful in terms of college applications for next year.

“I’m very grateful that Paly is hosting an SAT,” Joondeph wrote in a message to The Paly Voice. “I had signed up for multiple SAT tests that have since been cancelled. While UCs are test blind, some other schools still unfortunately recommend submitting test scores, so I am glad Paly is giving us this opportunity.”

Joondeph also discussed both the positive and negative implications of the in-person testing environment after nearly a year of distance learning.

“I think the decision to only administer the SAT to juniors means that there is less of a safety risk, as fewer students will be on campus, which definitely makes me feel safer to go in and take the test,” Joondeph said. “However, I will still need to be very careful and maintain social distance on campus and wear my mask at all times. There are many rules enforcing these guidelines, so I hope that will be a good incentive for students to stay safe.”

Junior Eunice Cho, who was initially planning to take the ACT, similarly emphasized her appreciation for the test, and said that this may be her only chance to take any form of standardized testing for the rest of the year.

“I am glad that the school is offering this April SAT because it guarantees that I will actually be able to take the test (or at least increases the chances),” Cho stated. “I was actually planning on taking only the ACT, so I did not study for it [the SAT], but since all of my other tests have been canceled and this may be my only opportunity to take a test, I am doing my best to prepare for it.”

There will be no essay section for the April SAT after the College Board announced that the optional SAT essay, as well as SAT Subject Tests, were going to be discontinued

For free resources and tips on how to prepare for the SAT, see below: