The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


FUSD and College Board Changes

By Staff Writers Sumani Alem & Larry Shi


With distance learning rendering many important standardized tests cancelled or rescheduled, FUSD administration cancelled all PSAT administration sites across the district on January 5, including MSJ’s administration site. The FUSD Instructional Services Department also mentioned that registration fees will be fully refunded

Because of nationwide PSAT testing cancellations, the National Merit Scholarships (which were dependent on PSAT scores, a letter of recommendation, a personal essay, and information about student’s activities and leadership before the 2020-21 school year) were adjusted to fit the needs of students who had their standardized tests cancelled. The scholarships will now be dependent on a junior’s SAT score obtained from August 2020 to June 2021, which students must then send to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) no later than October 15, 2021. Finally, students must complete the Alternate Entry Form by April 1, 2021 to receive consideration for the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. Further details can be found here

Before the cancellations, the PSAT was scheduled to be held in October; however, due to rising coronavirus cases and district-wide regulations, the testing was postponed to January 26, right after Semester 1 finals.


On January 19, partially because of the pandemic, the College Board announced that they will be removing both the SAT Subject Tests and the optional essay portion of the SAT. Internationally, the SAT Subject Tests will continue to be administered through May and June. As the College Board has frequently stressed their mission to balance the inequities of low-income and minority families, they have decided that both these two objectives do not align with their goals, thus removing them. Furthermore, the College Board says that due to the “expanded reach of AP tests,” SAT Subject Tests will not be necessary. Students can continue to submit their Subject Tests scores through the time they graduate. 

Although PSAT administration has been cancelled in all FUSD sites, the SAT and the SAT with Essay, although the latterwill no longer be counted in college admissions, will be offered at all FUSD high school sites on April 27, 2021. According to the College Board, these special SAT administrations will only be available for juniors. As long as FUSD secures enough proctors for the sites, small cohort testing will proceed. All students will be required to wear a mask for the entirety of their testing session. 

The SAT is optional for all college applications, including the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) admissions for the Class of 2022, but taking the test will allow juniors across the district a chance to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. 

AP Exams

College Board is expecting to provide in-school testing for the AP exams which are scheduled for May 3-7 and May 10-14. In contrast to the 2020 exams, the 2021 AP exams will cover full course content.

College Board is currently working with AP teachers to offer separate dates in June for each subject so students can have additional instructional time before testing. An updated exam schedule that includes these dates will be posted to AP Central in early February. 

In the event that schools remain closed through the AP testing dates, AP teachers, coordinators, and administrators will be able to authorize a full-length digital contingency exam that can be taken at home. 

AP Coordinator Pete Vaz added that administering in-person AP exams would be difficult and unlikely due to current COVID-19 protocols. According to Vaz, there are 967 students registered to take the exams, and 2,333 exams will be administered in total. The subject with the most students signed up is AP Statistics, at 307. 

Each classroom will have a maximum of 15 students; there would need to be at least 21 rooms and 21 proctors to administer the AP Statistics exam alone. Complications will only increase if two exams are scheduled to take place at the same time (as currently planned with AP Spanish Literature and Culture and AP Chemistry, for example), and if rooms need to be cleaned between the roughly one-hour break times before subsequent tests. 

The original statement from College Board about these updates can be found here.

Cover Image by News Editor Alina Zeng

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