SAT, PSAT occurs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Through tough times, GCHS managed to administer the SAT and PSAT to students while staying safe.


Mathematics teacher Jason Doll and technology integration specialist Shanna Piggott check students’ IDs before they enter campus. Photo by Joselind Manzano

Joselind Manzano, News Editor

This school year, juniors and seniors took the PSAT and the SAT amidst a global pandemic. As a result of this, high schools had to come up with an unconventional plan for administering the tests, which are both graduation requirements in the state of Illinois.

“COVID-19 has changed [the process] dramatically because we are not in school right now, and bringing over 300 kids into the building was definitely a challenge [because] we can only have 50 individuals in a space that uses the same ventilation system,” said test coordinator Kevin O’Connor.

To ensure the safety of students taking the test, admission tickets were sent approximately a week before the test days to students’ school emails. These tickets included info such as what to bring, what not to bring, and further instructions for the test day. Before entering campus, each student’s ticket was checked, their temperatures were taken, and they were screened for COVID-19 symptoms or contact with the virus. Specifically, students were asked if anyone in their home had COVID-19, if they were caring for anyone with COVID-19, and if anyone at home was waiting on a test result. If a student said yes to any of these questions or had a temperature above 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit, they would not be allowed to take the test and would be given a make-up date.

In addition to these procedures, “We staggered out times. We actually had eight different start times for testing,” said O’Connor. Fortunately for the PSAT day, the number of students taking it are less and the duration of the test was shorter than the SAT. This made the planning for the day lighter since they didn’t have to worry about setting up the tents and providing snacks. The students are divided into groups of ten per classroom, and for bathroom breaks and snack breaks, they are accompanied by a proctor.

By the end of the test, the proctor will call in those administrators who are assigned to pull out the test materials. In collecting the materials, they were wearing gloves and masks.

O’Connor also explained that all the planning and preparation that went into those two days are “both training and practice for us to prepare for the possibility of a hybrid learning model, coming up.” Faculty and staff haven’t been on campus for months. Without having data, insights, and experience in implementing hybrid learning, administrators used the SAT and PSAT days as a test run to see if hybrid learning is a possibility at GCHS.

Juniors and seniors felt good about going back to school since they got to see some teachers and classmates. Although they’re required to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, and the testing areas were chilly, they were able to take the test with no distractions.

With all that, the administration greatly appreciates the patience and cooperation of the student body and faculty who made the whole process run smoothly. “We had a huge contribution from staff members who are willing to come in and help out to make sure this happened,” said O’Connor.