Unsigned: Condensed Testing Junior Year Ineffectual and Stressful


artwork by: Mina Orlic

    If you asked a group of high school graduates what year they found the hardest, the overwhelming majority would most likely say junior year. First of all, for some reason, the classes that students take during their eleventh grade year seem more demanding than any other year. In addition, with the amount of tests students are pressured to take, there’s no question that junior year is extremely chaotic. While nobody is directly forcing juniors to take AP tests or the SAT or ACT, there’s a common understanding that these tests are necessary if you want to get into a good college. On top of that, students are required to take the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) in their junior year. Taking all these tests is not only taxing on students’ mental health but also on their bank accounts. Therefore, we at The Commander believe that measures should be taken to change the testing schedule so that they don’t all fall during junior year around the same time.

    Unfortunately, many of these important tests are scheduled in and around the same month. According to College Board’s AP Central, “The 2019 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May: May 6 through 10 and May 13 through 17.” The next SAT will be held on May 4 and the next ACT will be held on June 8 (apcentral.collegeboard.org). While some may argue that students don’t have to take the SAT in May, this date is typically popular because juniors have covered the most material by this point in time and feel more prepared for the test. The SBAC tests will be held April 16 through 18 and April 24 through 26, as well as May 21 through 23 and May 29 through 31.  With the AP, SBAC, and SAT/ACT dates scheduled so close together, students are forced to study for multiple tests at the same time. This places massive amounts of stress and anxiety on students. Junior Devon O’Malley stated, “Junior year is especially taxing on the average teenage brain.” This is partly due to the overload of important tests that take place in and around the same few weeks each year.

     By the end of junior year, students have spent hundreds of dollars on multiple tests. According to College Board, “The SAT is 3 hours long and costs 47.50 dollars. If you add the optional essay, the test is 3 hours, 50 minutes and costs 64.50 dollars. The fee for each AP Exam is 94 dollars” (collegereadiness.collegeboard.org). According to the official ACT website, the ACT with no writing is 50.50 dollars and the ACT with writing is 67.00 dollars (act.org).  While College Board offers discounts for specific income groups, the reality is that many students are still paying full price. The preparation for these tests also adds to expenses; students buy textbooks, prepbooks, and prep courses in order to ensure they get a solid score on these tests. The financial burden adds to the stress for juniors.

    Additionally, some students do not have parents who are able or willing to spend this much money, especially all at once. If the tests were dispersed throughout the school year, this would give students and their families the ability to spend smaller sums of money multiple times throughout the school year. This way, students who aren’t as lucky financially would still have the same opportunities.

    While we understand that testing is a part of school, there is no reason why all these tests should be scheduled so close together. And why does the SBAC testing have to happen junior year?  If we were to separate these tests, even by a month (but ideally more than that), students would benefit both mentally and financially.