Photo courtesy of collegeboard.org

Testing in a test-optional age

Scholastic Aptitude Test testing sessions have become harder to find and the scheduling less reliable at a time when students are scrambling to get their hands on any open spots available before college applications are due. 

With the development of online SAT availability underway, there are fewer in-person testing sites available.

The College Board’s website offers this warning: 

“Remember, test centers may close or make changes on short notice, including on test day, and they may even close for the scheduled makeup date. Test center data is updated every three hours—be sure to search any closings the night before and morning of your scheduled test.”

 Because of this, many students are experiencing scheduling conflicts. 

“The College Board is so focused on the fact that they’re going digital that they think these problems will go away,” said Alicia Perla, Country Day’s college counselor.

Another reason for the shortage of SAT testing sessions is that California universities are moving toward test-free and test-optional environments, not requiring SAT or ACT scores to apply. The UCs and CSUs are all notably test-optional, resulting in a scarcity of tests in the California region.

The lack of testing sessions has pushed some students to look for tests out of state.

Senior Callister Misquitta took a last-second spot in Las Vegas on Aug. 7 after the availability of sessions in California dried up. 

“I waited too late to register, and all the testing places in California were all booked out,” he said.

Flying in the day before the test, Misquitta had to pay for his own plane ticket and was lucky that he could stay with an aunt who lives there.

“It was more stressful for me because I spent time and money on a plane ticket; it made me feel more pressure.”

Misquitta was able to attend a second test on Oct. 1 along with fellow classmate senior Ryan Paul, who wasn’t as fortunate as Misquitta in August. 

Paul, along with four other seniors properly registered for a test and landed a session at Mira Loma High School scheduled on Aug. 27. However, that test was canceled, sending Paul and his classmates into a frantic effort to reschedule, with only one student able to test the same day. Paul and the other seniors were forced to arrange sessions at later dates.

“They didn’t even have the courtesy to send me an email,” Paul said.

To ensure a smooth testing experience, Perla recommends avoiding schools with histories of canceling last minute, as the College Board will not let you know. 

For those who want the ability to take the SAT multiple times, Perla recommends starting early. 

“If you’re really serious about having a particular score and that score is within your reach, it would make sense for you to start looking for tests in March of your junior year at the earliest,” Perla said. 

“I would even hesitate to say that because it would be better if you’re substantially finished with your classes. But, if you want to take it that early, look to possibly take it again in August of your senior year.”

Most testing preparation services recommend at least five weeks of studying in advance to be properly prepared. 

For seniors who were unable to or decided not to take an SAT test already, Country Day recently provided an SAT session on Oct. 27.

For more information about standardized testing, contact Alicia Perla at aperla@saccds.org.

— By William Holz and Daniel Holz

Originally published in the Oct. 25 edition of The Octagon

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