Students, our holiday from serious test taking is (and should be) coming to an end

Senior+Evelina+Swigart+hard+at+work+in+the+library%2C+preparing+to+take+a+test.

Isabel Engel

Senior Evelina Swigart hard at work in the library, preparing to take a test.

Isabel Brittin, Staff Writer

After spending nearly a year of taking tests fully online, my first in-person test in 2021 was a bit of a slap in the face. Like many, I was used to the relaxed timelines that accompanied online tests after not being in a classroom setting since before the pandemic. While I hadn’t given it much thought, as soon as I sat down for my Precalc test a few weeks ago, I realized just how much the past year virtual learning has affected me. After a rushed math test (and a few tears), it hit me that my lack of practice taking actual tests over the past year has seriously hindered my once-strong test-taking skills. 

Since COVID-19 hit, teachers have had to completely change how tests are administered. With hybrid classes, teachers reimagined their lesson plans as well as how they assess knowledge at the end of a unit. I can personally say that these accommodations have been key to my success as a student this year. 

Nearly all of the assessments I have taken since March 2020 have been open-note and many have been assigned with a relaxed due date. As I begin to prepare for senior year and the dreaded SAT, however, I am forced to confront the reality that this isn’t how it always will be. It is crazy to think about a world pre-coronavirus, but all of the modifications regarding test-taking over the past year have left me wondering if I will be less prepared for college and beyond? 

While AP tests are now optional for seniors, the juniors will still be taking them in a few months. If I can’t handle a 40-minute Precalc test without a breakdown, the 3-hour exam should be a blast! When I signed up for APUSH as a sophomore, I heard from upperclassmen that AP classes were test-heavy. Yet, with most of my year being virtual, the few assessments we have taken have not been graded. Instead, we have been assessed through writing and mini projects —a total 180 from the way AP classes have been conducted in the past. 

Though academically rigorous and trying for students, the standardized tests, lengthy essays, and other high demands of junior year build the study habits we will all need one day in college. Now, though, we are sorely out of shape and behind the game. 

As more teachers and even students are getting vaccinated, the 2021-2022 school year looks like it may be the return to normal academics we have all been waiting for. It might be hard, but transitioning back will allow us to prepare for what lies ahead beyond Potomac’s campus. 

After all, while open-note tests and extra time are great now, it can’t be this way forever.