End of year brings on SOL testing

Students of Virginia are required to take SOLs for certain classes near the end of the year to test the placement of their skills. While some students of Graham High School have already completed their SOLs, some are just now starting. 

The SOL, also known as the Standards of Learning, is a Virginia test designed to measure how much knowledge a student has retained and learned throughout the two semesters. Usually, these scores do not affect the students’ grades as it is a way to measure how much they have learned from their teachers. Hannah McMillion (11) said, “Teachers say it’s more of a test of their skills to show how well they were able to teach us the stuff.” These tests vary from English (writing and reading), World Geography, Biology, Geometry, and Algebra 1. These tests are graded on a pass/fail basis, though if students score high enough, they can also reach advanced. 

This year, due to Covid-19, the criteria for testing have been slightly altered to ensure the safety of students. Protocols are met so that students may maintain the proper distance for state covid restrictions. “For one, we had to wear masks the whole time of course. We also tested today prior to the date for everyone else because of social distancing. So we had to spread out testing days since we had limited seating,” Tessa Koen (11) said. Other students also mention problems with restricted seating arrangements. 

Teachers work hard to prepare students for the SOLs to make sure they can get the best results and feel less nervous. Many teachers have different ways and techniques to help students revise the work they have learned. This is key especially because many things learned during the first semester are often forgotten. “Yes, my teacher, Mrs. Metcalfe assigned several practice assignments and quizzes,” Tessa Koen (11) said, “Some were on Kahoot.” Other teachers had different methods of preparing their students, “For my upcoming reading SOL there are a lot of review assignments for things that are normally in the SOL and for the writing SOL we did a lot of writing prompts to prepare us,” Hannah McMillion (11) said. With all of these reviews, students work diligently to complete these assignments to be properly prepared for the SOLs.

With the SOL testing, comes a lot of stress on the students’ behalf. “I was pretty confident because it was English,” Hannah McMillion (11) said, “but if it was math I would be very nervous.” A lot of other students also felt nervous to take their SOLs: “Definitely more nervous, I feel like I haven’t practiced enough for it,” Isabel Douthat (9) said. 

While students wait to take their tests or patiently wait for their results, they offer some words of wisdom to future students who will take the SOLs. Getting enough sleep seemed to be a common tip given by most students. Hannah McMillion also mentions wearing comfortable clothing because it is easy to become distracted. Tessa Koen (11) said, “My tips would be to not panic or overreact. Try to read carefully and use the process of elimination.” With these tips, students hope to help others score higher on their tests.

Besides final exams for some students, this is the last big push for students as they approach the end of the school year. Teachers ensure the students feel at least a little less stressed through reviews and practice assignments. Good luck to all the students taking their SOLs and awaiting their scores!