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SAT 5-Minute Mess-Up, an Update

Posted by Dora Seigel | Apr 1, 2016 7:00:00 PM

SAT General Info



On June 6th, 2015, the College Board made a huge mistake. This mistake resulted in some sections of the test being canceled and forced the College Board to use an abnormal scoring method. To make amends for the mistake, the College Board offered a free retest for June 6th test-takers in October 2015. What’s the situation today? How did the retest go? What should you do if you took the June 6th test? I’ll address all of this and more in this news update. 

What Was the 5-Minute Mess Up?

If you know the full story, feel free to skip this section and jump to the update. If you don’t know what happened on June 6th, I encourage you to read our full report on the situation, but here is a brief summary:

On section 8 or 9 of the test (depending on your version), there was a typo in the test booklet which said you had 25 minutes to complete the section when in fact you were only allowed 20 minutes (which is what it says in the proctor instructions). As a result of this discrepancy, some proctors gave students 25 minutes for the section while other were given only 20 minutes.

Due to the discrepancy, the College Board decided to cancel two sections of the test. They had to change their normal grading curve, which affected the reliability of the scoring. To pacify angry students (some of whom were threatening to sue), the College Board offered a free retest on October 3rd for all students who took the SAT June 6th. 

However, the College Board still released scores for all June 6th SAT test-takers, and the scores from that test date will still count as an official SAT score. Colleges should judge SAT scores from June 6th the same as scores from other SAT test dates.  

In spite of the free re-test, many students and parents are still angry. Samuel Jester, who sat for the June 6th SAT, and his family are trying to file a class action lawsuit against the College Board for students who sat for the June 6th SAT and paid to have their scores verified. They're arguing that the test was not "scored in a consistent and reliable manner." The lawsuit is still pending. 


Update on the October Retest

For those who took the retest on October 3rd, how did they feel? Here are some reactions from students on Twitter:

The Good


The Bad 


The In-Between


Some Hadn’t Received Their Scores


This delay was due to an issue with the College Board’s new electronic system. The issue has since been resolved, and all October 3rd scores were received by test-takers. However, the delay worried many students who’d applied Early Decision or Early action since many colleges require scores to arrive before November 1st.

The College Board worked with college admissions offices on the issue, and many colleges still allowed students to be considered for Early Action or Early Decision in spite of the slightly delayed scores.


body_emoticons.pngSAT scores lead to a lot of emotions.


What To Do

If you took the June 6th SAT, what should you do? Whether you were happy, sad or ambivalent towards your score, I have advice for you!


Option #1: Happy with Score from June

If you’re happy with your score for the June 6th test, send that score! Colleges should view it the same as any other SAT score. Even if you took the free re-test in October, you could still opt to send the June 6th score. Your June 6th score still counts as an official score.


Option #2: Very Unhappy with June Score

If you were very unhappy with your June 6th score, you were not alone. I personally sat for that test date and received 760 in Math for one incorrect answer without skipping any questions (which would normally be a 780-800 on another test date). The grading curve was brutal, so many students were unhappy.

If you fell into that unhappy group, hopefully, you did the free retest October 3rd, but if not, you should pay for a retest.

I highly recommend doing SAT prep to try to improve your score. You could try self-study, tutoring, a class, or online program; whatever prep path you choose make sure it is personalized to your needs. You need to determine your areas of weakness and try to improve in those areas.

If you retest and improve your score significantly, you might be accused of cheating. Even if you’re not accused of cheating, your drastic score increase may seem suspicious to colleges (for schools that require all scores sent).

I recommend that you use the additional information section of your common app to explain that you were very thrown off on June 6th by the timing confusion and that caused an abnormally low score.


Option #3: Okay with June Score

If you don’t love or hate your score, if it’s close to your target score but not exactly what you wanted, I’d consider re-testing if you have the time.

Hopefully, you took the free October retest and did better, but if not, I suggest you make an effort to prep for your next SAT test either through self-study, tutoring, a class, or online program. Check out our awesome guides to SAT prep.

If you decide for some reason to use your June score, that’s great! Colleges should view it the same as any other SAT score.

What’s Next?

Need help with your college application? Learn about how to write a personal statement, how to write about your extracurriculars, and how to get great letters of recommendation.

Interested in attending a top college? Learn about how to get into Harvard and Stanford.

Still prepping for the SAT? Here are some useful SAT strategy guides. If you’re taking the SAT soon, I’d recommend you check out our guide to cramming for the SAT. 


Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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