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Should you take the SSAT at home?

COVID-19 has derailed so many of our plans these past few months, but not even a pandemic can stop the juggernaut that is standardized testing! Fortunately, the Enrollment Management Association is committed to making sure all students can take the test with proper safety precautions, and it seems they agree with us here at District Scholars: Nothing is safer than virtual education and testing from your own home!

The at-home SSAT is available to all students in the US and Canada taking the middle level and upper level versions of the test. The traditional routes of taking a paper-based test or a computer-based test at a Prometric test center are still available to those students who wish. So which do you choose? The answer won't be the same for every student. Here's some factors to consider: Safety: Obviously this is everyone's number one concern right now, as it should be. Taking the test at home is certainly the safest option. Whether or not taking the test in-person is safe is a tricky question as EMA only dictates that test centers follow the guidelines issued by state and local health authorities regarding social distancing, masks, and other precautions. Families should contact test centers ahead of time to determine whether specific precautions are strict enough (and by all means, let the centers know if they aren't!) Stress: Most students are going to experience some level of stress on test day, understandably so. Is your student one who handles stress well, or shuts down? Will being at home make them more comfortable, or stress them out more? Stress is a real score-killer, so mitigating this as much as possible is highly encouraged! Distractions: Many of us have been working from home for months now, and understand all too well the difficulty of staying focused when working at home. Being in a room where other students are also taking the test may help your student stay on task. It may also remove the issue of siblings or other family members making noise as they go about their day, doing something more pleasant than taking a three-hour standardized test (as if there could be such a thing!) Accommodations: Does your student require testing accommodations? Fortunately, your child is entitled to the same level of accommodations regardless of the method of test-taking. However, it is important to remember that these accommodations must be applied for and approved before the test date. Although some accommodations are rendered irrelevant for a computer-based test (e.g., the need for a word processor or Braille text) it is always recommended that you apply for these accommodations as if your student were taking a paper-based test. Better to have it and not need it! Whatever method you choose, it is crucial that your student practice taking the test under test conditions. The day will be stressful enough; we want to ensure that your child knows what to expect so they can do their absolute best!

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