Standardized tests undergo changes, postponements

Following decisions to cancel the March and May SATs, as well as the April ACT, the College Board and ACT Inc. have been constantly releasing more information about their plans for the rest of the school year, with information about standardized testing changing on a near-weekly basis. The only standardized tests that haven’t been canceled are the Advanced Placement exams.

The College Board announced that the next available SAT will take place on June 6, though the company said that it is unsure if this will be feasible. If not, it is “pursuing innovative ways to ensure all students can still take the SAT this fall,” according to its website, implying that it may pursue an online format.

The ACT test will take place on June 13 and 18; however, many colleges have announced their willingness to waive SAT and ACT requirements given the extraneous circumstances.

Also on the list of canceled tests are International Baccalaureate tests. Rather than providing a replacement exam or changing the format, IB diplomas or course certificates will be awarded based on students’ grades, work and the rigor of the courses their school gives. This data will be submitted by schools.

A variety of state testing exams are also off the table this year, including California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress and summative English Language Proficiency Assessments for California exams. Initial ELPACs for newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English will be administered once school is back in session, though it is unknown when that will be.

As for AP exams, students will be allowed to take them risk-free in the new online format, which consists of only free-response questions. For those who don’t want to take the test online and would rather opt out, the College Board is refunding exam fees penalty-free. The online tests will be 45 minutes long each and will take place from May 11-22 for regular exams and June 1-5 for makeups.

Different exams have different numbers of free-response questions. The AP Language and Composition exam, for example, will only have a rhetorical analysis essay. The majority of exams will have two questions, one 25-minute long-form question and a shorter, 15-minute one. There will be five minutes allocated between each question during which students must take a picture of their handwritten response or paste in a typed one and submit it.

AP courses that include portfolio submissions like AP 2-D Art and Design or Computer Science Principles will not have exams. Additionally, the deadlines for all portfolio entries were extended to May 26.

For world language courses, the College Board has done away with all written portions, opting instead to have students complete two spoken tasks that correspond to questions three and four on the normal exam format.

The tests will also only cover the first 75 percent of each course, meaning most subjects won’t include the last unit or two. To make sure students can still finish learning each subject despite the shorter exam, the College Board has also invited certain AP teachers to create videos that cover the last 25 percent of each subject’s material. These are shown live on scheduled dates that can be found on their website, and the videos will also be uploaded to their YouTube channel for later viewing.

Another major change, which has sparked some controversy, is the fact that the exams will be open-book, open-note and open-internet. Because an online format is conducive to cheating, by opening access to the internet, the College Board hopes to level the playing field. However, they also discourage students from using this information because it is “a source of misinformation, diverging opinions, and manipulated content.” The organization also states on their website that students who use the internet often earn fewer points than those who take the time to develop a more thought-out response. Instead of testing factual recall, they will be checking students’ knowledge of applications of the material.

More measures will be taken to prevent alternative methods of cheating like having someone else take the exam or receiving outside help. Within two weeks of the exams, teachers will have access to their students’ responses and are encouraged to verify that the skill, style and handwriting shown is consistent with their students’ usual work. The College Board plans to have other anti-plagiarism programs to make sure the students’ material is original work.

The College Board will be opening up simulations of a yet-unknown format so that students may practice submitting their exams because on the actual test day, if a student doesn’t submit it in time, their response is invalidated.

To find more details about the formats for specific exams and stay up to date with the information the College Board is releasing, see their website at