The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020-2021 school year across America, with schools all over the country switching to remote or hybrid learning plans. But hope is in sight; with vaccinations on the rise, many schools and school districts are reopening for full-time, in-person learning. While this is generally a welcome development, it can cause stress and confusion, as can any change, especially for students who are preparing to take the SAT/ACT. So, how can your school help your students adjust their test prep plans in light of school reopenings?
Understand What They’re Going Through
Elisabeth Wood, a high school teacher in Michigan, spoke to our team about the challenges her students have been facing as their school reopens for full-time in-person instruction. She said it’s important to remember that, for all that reopening can feel like “getting back to normal,” it isn’t realistic to expect that, and educators need to show compassion and understanding as their students attempt to navigate academics and test prep under extraordinary circumstances.
“You can be going into the school every day, but that doesn’t make your routine, classes, or test prep ‘normal,’” she told us. “There is always a part of your brain working on making sure… you’re following all these new rules, and it changes everyone’s mental landscape. Being in the building doesn’t make the pandemic stop affecting students and their learning capacity. In order to truly prepare students to do well on tests in this era, we need to understand the drastically changed circumstances of students.”
Make Time for Test Prep
One of the biggest changes in the return to in-person learning will be how much more structured your students’ time will become. In a remote or hybrid learning model, many students will have structured their SAT/ACT test prep plans around a schedule they set themselves—a schedule that may no longer be possible with the return of in-person schooling. While unfortunately, schools cannot ensure that every student’s prep schedule remains intact, they can do their best to see that students still have time in their days devoted to test prep. Whether this means offering test prep time and help in study hall periods or at lunch, or asking teachers to be mindful of test dates when they assign long-term projects, schools can make time for their students to keep up with test prep even as their schedules change.
Encourage Students to Plan Ahead
Ultimately, students themselves are under tremendous pressure to ensure their test scores reach their full potential, keep up with their academic studies, and adjust to a changing landscape. It can be overwhelming for anyone—but it’s less so if you plan ahead. As reopenings start, encourage students to make a plan, not just for test prep itself, but for how this will fit into the larger picture of their lives. This can look like setting new designated “prep afternoons” and “homework time”, but it can also mean things like committing to breaks, socializing, and other forms of self-care. Encouraging your students to anticipate the challenges that lie ahead, but also to be kind to themselves, will help to ensure that the transition to full-time in-person school, and balancing test prep as they make the shift, goes as smoothly as possible.