Testing, Testing


Graphic by Raag Venkat

Standardized testing for examinations such as the SAT were very difficult to schedule for many seniors due to the pandemic.

Mila Nguyen and Spencer Jacobs

During the first half of the school year, Greenhill seniors are consumed by college applications. However, this year, COVID-19 has changed the college application process immensely.

The majority of schools have made standardized testing optional. Still, many Greenhill seniors opted to finish their testing so that colleges can get a sense of their capabilities. Testing for the ACT, SAT, and SAT Subject Tests was very difficult to schedule for many seniors. Testing centers offering testing dates could be anywhere from 10 minutes away to in another state, and many tests got canceled very close to the planned testing date.

“After five testing cancellations, I had to take my ACT four hours away in Arkansas in September all because COVID-19 canceled my SAT in March,” senior Anagha Gouru said.

Greenhill did offer an ACT testing date specifically for Greenhill seniors on Oct. 10. The testing date was organized with the help of the College Counseling Office and Upper School Learning Specialist Grace Kiang.

On top of testing stress, seniors were not given the same opportunities to engage with the schools that they were interested in. College visits are a big factor for students in determining if the school is the right fit. Greenhill seniors usually visit colleges during spring and summer break; however, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, students were forced to attend their college visits online.

“It was definitely harder to narrow down my list of schools since I was not able to visit in person,” said Gouru. “I was not able to get a feel of the climate, atmosphere and overall vibe of the colleges.”

Since students have not been able to go to on-campus visits, they have had to go on virtual tours. On these tours, students are able to see pictures of the campus and hear from admissions officers through different online platforms. However, for many students, online tours are less effective than being on the campus itself.

“I had to go on a lot of virtual visits, but I still don’t think it was the same as actually seeing myself there,” said senior Madison Nguyen. “I was lucky enough to be able to visit some of the schools I was applying to during my junior year, but I know that was not the case for everybody.”

While many seniors agreed that the essay-writing process for college applications stayed the same as past years, seniors were forced to be on their computers for much more time because they had to write their essays and do schoolwork online at the same time.

“It was definitely exhausting and difficult to sit at my computer for sometimes seven hours a day and then having to write my applications as well on my computer. With the way the Greenhill schedule works, I do not have a lot of time, and it is difficult,” said senior Preston Gerard. “It sometimes feels like I never leave my desk.”