The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Webbies go to extreme lengths to take the SAT

Stratton Rebish
As Webbies attempted to register for the SAT this year, many of them were met with similar results: every testing center was full. Following the closure of many test centers across the state due to the pandemic, many students at Webb have been forced to cross county and — in extreme cases — state lines to take the SAT. “I signed up for [my August SAT] in July,” Annie Han (‘24) said. “I think if I signed up in June, I wouldn’t have had to go that far.” Still, as students try to sign up earlier and earlier, many of them struggle to reserve a seat.

Your mom’s voice echoes through your head as you frantically scroll through the College Board website. “Have you signed up for the SAT yet?” 

As you move further and further from your zip code, each center displays the same status: Full, no seats. After flipping through dozens of pages of testing centers, you mope over to your mother with bad news and murmur, reluctantly, “We have to go to Las Vegas.” 

In 2020, when the world — along with its SAT testing centers — shut down, colleges nationwide adopted test-optional policies as a part of their application process. As we returned to normalcy, though, standardized testing did not follow suit 

Now, in 2023, universities like Columbia and William & Mary announced that they would embrace the new test-less application process, extending their test-optional policies indefinitely. On the contrary, M.I.T. and Georgetown, among others, have reverted to their pre-pandemic testing requirements, limiting admission solely to applicants with access to standardized testing. 

As colleges have started making decisions on whether to require standardized test scores as a part of their application or not, testing centers could not keep up with the growing demand for the test. Because of the pandemic closing many test centers for good, Webbies have been forced over county and state lines to take their standardized tests. 

“The first time I took it, August 26th, I took it at Arcadia High School and then the second time I took it this past Saturday, I took it in Vegas,” Annie Han (‘24) said. “I just feel bad for my mom, I feel bad for my parents. If I was the one driving, I wouldn’t feel that bad, but the fact that I made my mom drive all the way to Vegas by herself and then drive all the way back and book a hotel… I felt bad for my parents.” 

For many people like Annie, a commute this long has a lot of expenses. This drive costs a lot of time and money that most people would want to spend on other activities. But for others, they might not even have the resources to make this journey. 

“Whether you’re sitting for the SAT or the ACT, whether you know you’re going to need that score or not, or even if you don’t need the score, it’s a high anxiety driven exam and it’s time consuming and it’s expensive,” said Hector Martinez, Dean of College Guidance. “And ultimately, the only people that are winning from it is the College Board that makes millions and millions of dollars giving out that exam or American College Testing, which is the ACT company that makes a ton of money from test takers, right?” 

Signing up for the SAT means prioritizing the test over all other commitments, and for many students, plans that far in the future are difficult to make and can jeopardize family occasions and household duties. So, although some of the distance and energy can be blamed on late sign-ups, a significant portion of the fault lies in the strained system lacking better access to local schools.  

“We drove two hours there and two hours back,” said Ella Chin (‘25), who took the test in San Diego. “So that’s four hours in all, and I didn’t get to do my homework.”  

Ella’s struggles with finding local testing do not differ from most students submitting a test along with the rest of their applications. The difficulties COVID brought to test accessibility originally encouraged colleges to go test-optional; however, as many colleges found that the application process without the tests provided sufficient information about the applicant, they questioned whether bringing tests back was even worth it. 

“As things evolved, and as colleges became more sophisticated in their evaluations of candidates for admissions and more and more colleges started using a holistic evaluation process and not a grade score process so long time ago, colleges would use your test scores and your grades,” Mr. Martinez said. “Then they started changing that and asking for recommendations and activities and personal statements and all sorts of things to evolve into what we see as the typical college application today that you guys are used to.”    

Despite the test-free trend, some colleges have returned to requiring standardized test scores, leaving students with no option but to return to testing. Nationwide testing after COVID poses challenges with finding host schools and staff and provides only a narrow snapshot of a student’s actual talents.  

So, this begs the question: Why take the test?  

Honestly, you shouldn’t. 

“There really should be no reason why a student should be going to Las Vegas or leaving the state to take an exam,” Mr. Martinez said. “It just seems ridiculous to me and like a waste of a lot of time and energy. Maybe that time and energy could be spent on doing better in your academic work and finding other interesting things to show off in your profile to colleges.” 

The SAT has existed as a tool to measure a student’s skills in reading, analysis, and writing for nearly a century. The test, though, was founded on racial biases to segregate college education. 

“When you get into the thick of the racial biases that the exam has for minority students, especially black and Latino kids, that exam is almost designed to never favor minority candidates,” Mr. Martinez said. “It’s a test that was developed 100 years ago to exclude people from admissions, not to include them. I think most people today would be like, ‘well, that’s wrong and we don’t want anything to do with it,’ right?” 

The SAT has been historically inaccessible to low-income and minority students. Since 1926, the SAT has housed underlying biases in the questions and ideas that make up the test. Generally, schools serving Black and/or Hispanic students are more penalized by the school rating sites like than schools serving predominantly White and/or Asian students due to lower standardized test scores. These ratings contribute to a cycle of oppression against minority schools.  

These structures of oppression remain — in various forms — today and continue to put low-income and minority students at a disadvantage during the college admissions process. Even as colleges claim to review a student’s application holistically, high standardized test scores provide a gateway for merit scholarships and other benefits that have been barred from those who cannot effectively prepare for the test. 

Although the historical disenfranchisement of low-income and minority students should serve as sufficient reason to drop the test altogether, colleges finally implemented test-optional policies because of COVID. And with many colleges sticking to these policies for now, we may soon see a future where the exam is obsolete. 

“[The SAT] is still an exam that doesn’t prove to those of us that work in this industry — this college admissions world — that it is a defining exam that helps predict success in college,” Mr. Martinez said. “I think that a defining thing that helps predict success in college is students’ hard work academically at their high school. That’s what determines whether you’re going to do well academically in college, not a three-hour exam.” 

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About the Contributors
Stratton Rebish
Stratton Rebish, Editor-in-Chief
Stratton Rebish (‘24) is a man of many titles. Holding positions as Head Peer Advisor, Editor-in-Chief of the Webb Canyon Chronicle, the founder and president of the Webb Thespian Group, Stratton is, “kind of a big deal around town,” according to him. But within these responsibilities, he has two main passions: football and theater. As a varsity defensive end and football captain, you might not immediately think of Stratton as a theater kid. A single conversation with Stratton will brighten your day with his bubbly and dramatic tones. His hysterical jokes come from his love of stand-up comedy and comics like Hasan Minhaj. As for sports, he is an avid New York sports fan; the New York Jets and Knicks will forever hold a special place in his heart, even when they disappoint him year after year. Aside from getting grilled for his poor sports team taste, he is a self-proclaimed “aspiring grill savant”. He aspires to be a grill dad and loves a Southeast Asian dish called Satay. And when you hear, “So guys, funny story, right,” be ready for Stratton’s theatrics, because he will always be in character, playin’ his role.  Favorite song: "Life" by Sérgio Mendes
Kristine Bisgaard
Kristine Bisgaard, Staff Writer
With a kind smile and calming voice, Kristine Bisgaard (‘25) is the embodiment of the Danish concept of “hygge: a word that cannot be directly translated into English but roughly means an atmosphere of comfort, coziness, and connection between people. Hailing from Denmark although she has moved around the world since she was seven years old, going from Northern Europe to the Bay Area, and now Claremont Kristine is no stranger to frequent change. Even her introduction to Webb was more sudden than most, as she simultaneously entered boarding school and the Webb Canyon Chronicle as a new junior. Despite the inevitable obstacles, Kristine has welcomed every opportunity to explore her new community with an open mind and easygoing personality. This year, Kristine looks forward to continuing to watch her favorite Danish TV shows, making new friends in her “home away from home,” and learning how to utilize journalism to make her own unique contribution to the Webb community by serving as a bridge between academic and social life. From embracing the creative freedom that Honors Studio Art offers to playing her best as a varsity tennis athlete, Kristine will no doubt delicately balance the rigor that Webb encourages with her love of “hygge and spending time with the people she cares about.  Favorite Song: "Ticking" by Zach Bryan
Santino Llorens
Santino Llorens, Staff Writer
Santino Llorens (‘26) brings a great deal of heart to the Webb Canyon Chronicle. Growing up eating his Nana’s gumbo, a delicious Creole dish that requires a three-day making process, he learned to embrace patience and dedication in everything he does.  Whether dribbling a soccer ball, scribbling poems in his notebook, or drudging through a dungeon-crawler, Santino is persistent in everything he does. He knows that good things — much like good gumbo — come to those who wait. It took time, but Santino discovered his love for writing last year in Ms. O’Brien’s Fundamentals of Composition class, and even submitted some of his poetry to Webb’s literary magazine, Breakfast. With prominent political activists and public speakers like Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin as his role models, Santino hopes to use his own bold, unique voice as a staff writer for the WCC and eventually create change for the better. Favorite Song: "Tuck That Hate In" by BashfortheWorld

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