Standardized testing in masks places students at disadvantage

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Photo by Charlotte smith ’21

Enzo Valadares ’21 is one of the many students at staples highschool who struggles with focusing while wearing a mask. Not only was the ACT challenging, but he finds school to be more difficult. Sitting through four 80-minute classes a day with few to no mask breaks is tough for him.

Charlotte smith ’21, Social Media Director

Prior to COVID-19, taking standardized tests were every junior and senior’s worst nightmare. Whether taking the SAT or the ACT, each test is loaded with challenging content that is designed to evaluate your skills in all areas. Not only are the tests difficult, but the stress inspired by the desire to get a “good score” is what prompts the most anxiety and pressure for students. 

Taking a standardized test shielded by a mask presents an obstacle that many students feel they cannot overcome; this could potentially lower their overall score.

Because of COVID-19, most people, including myself, weren’t able to get much preparation for the tests at all. Knowing how unprepared I was going into the exam terrified me.

 On top of all the stress that the SAT and ACT bring, the hardest part about it all is having to now wear a mask for approximately four hours straight throughout the entire exam. Trying to get through each question while being suffocated by my pink and yellow tie-dye mask was nearly impossible for me to accomplish. 

In general, standardized tests put everyone in an uncomfortable environment. Wearing a mask while taking them adds to the discomfort immensely. An important way to cope with stress is by taking deep breaths, yet wearing a mask makes deep breaths more difficult and less satisfying.

 On top of all the stress that the SAT and ACT bring, the hardest part about it all is having to now wear a mask for approximately four hours straight throughout the entire exam.”

These tests are supposed to showcase our best work to colleges, but with the additional obstacle of mask-wearing, I am distracted by the stale carbon dioxide circulating through my lungs, and can’t think in ways I normally would.

For some students, masks actually give them breathing issues. Whether it’s just forgetting to breathe from stress, or from wearing a thick mask that makes breathing difficult, the lack of air can make someone lightheaded and nauseous. Obviously, this would make the exam a lot more challenging to focus through and complete.

Although many schools have gone test-optional, most colleges are still accepting test scores and considering them when evaluating applicants. 

Taking standardized tests with a mask on puts students at a complete disadvantage. The results of these tests will not accurately represent a student’s full potential, and it is extremely unfair to compare these results to students who had the opportunity to take these tests prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.