Navigating the world of applying to colleges can be stressful for students, but even more daunting is doing it during a pandemic. This could not be more true for standardized testing.  Because of the spread of COVID-19, students’ opportunities to take ACT tests were scrapped month after month, causing students to scramble to fill the few open spots.  To help quell the chaos, Providence hosted the exam during the school day for Providence students only.  That is why on October 6th, forty-seven juniors and seniors filed into the Lecture Hall to complete the ACT.

Juniors wait with their friends to enter the Lecture Hall and take the ACT.

“District testing”, which is administering an exam to only the students who go to a specific school, is another practice new to 2020.  Providence has only done this once before: this past July.  After COVID cancelled nearly all ACTs in April, our College Counseling team was bracing themselves to pull the plug on their July exam date as well.  

After the tests were cancelled in June, we realized we couldn’t have it in July either,” explained Sarah Hogan, Director of College Counseling and former president of the Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling.

However, the ACT company announced Providence could offer the exam in July, but only if they administered it to PA students only.  This would allow PA to contact-trace any test-taker who might test positive for COVID.  After July passed, Providence was given the green light to host another round of testing, this time during the school day.

“This is unprecedented.  We’ve never administered it during the school day,” Hogan revealed.

Despite the oddness of taking the ACT in this fashion, students were happy with the efficiency and relaxed nature of these additions.  

Water bottles, calculators, and pencils line the hallways as the students await the second half of the exam.

Eleanor Young ‘22, reported, “I loved taking the ACT at Providence more than in other places because it was a comfortable environment.  During the break it actually felt like a brain break because I could talk to my friends and get my mind off the test.  Whereas when I took it last I didn’t know anyone, so all I was thinking about was the test.”

These additions also assisted students new to the standardized testing process.  Students could now go through the stressful experience of a first exam in the comfort of their own school. 

“I was glad I took my first ACT at Providence because I didn’t want to take it somewhere else,” admitted Anna Leuer ‘22.

And so, while they are still waiting for the pandemic to finally end, PA students don’t need to wait to take an ACT exam.