We've written at length about the June 6 SAT misprint snafu and SAT testing center problems. Our SAT experts who took the SAT on June 6th noted major problems in how the test was administered, leading to potential imbalances in test performance and equality.
As we suspected, these problems extend throughout the country. A reader wrote in with his terrible College Board testing experience with his son. The below letter was directly sent to the College Board as a complaint:
My son took a SAT Subject test on June 6, 2015 at UC Irvine in Irvine, California. The test was to be an hour. I assumed the total time he would be there would be no more than 2 hours.
On the testing day, there were hundreds of students there. They were testing for all subject tests plus the SAT itself. Checking in the students was a nightmare. Initially, there was only one extremely long line of students. I dropped my son off and saw him get in line. Since we arrived early, he was behind approximately 50-75 students.
When I drove by 30 minutes later, I was shocked to see the line at least five times longer and my son still standing in line. At that point, I thought there was nothing I could do, and it wasn't until FOUR hours later when he texted me that he had finished, that I discovered what he had to go through.
After he waited an hour in line waiting to be checked in, he said suddenly many students started running to another building. He then heard someone yell that SAT subject test takers need to go to another building. By the time he ran over to the other building, he then was at the back of a new long line. He said nowhere were signs posted or people giving instructions to the students as they arrived as to where they should go to check in.
Once he got into the room for the test about an hour later, he said he sat through 40 minutes of instructions, including instructions about calculators and having the calculators physically examined. My son was not there to take a math subject test, but a history test. Yet he had to sit through lengthy instructions that did not even pertain to his test.
So after being dropped off to take the test, he was not able to begin the test until hours later. That alone would make a student not only tired but even more apprehensive.
The desk he had to sit in had a very small surface area, less than the size of a sheet of notebook paper. He said it wasn't even enough room for his scantron and his arm had to hang off the side. He had to put his test booklet in his lap, without anything underneath it to provide a harder writing surface. When I asked how he marked in his test booklet (for marking eliminations and notes), he said he had to do it in his lap and it was extremely uncomfortable.
My son said he didn't want to take any further subject tests because of the experience. I tried to assure him that we will find a different test center next time, but I have no way of knowing what he might encounter elsewhere and it could be even worse. We have heard the many stories of proctors listening to audible music while the test is being administered, issues with the correct time being given, noise from outside not being addressed and other unfair conditions.
At this point, we don't yet know how he fared on the SAT subject test he took. But regardless, these testing conditions and disorganization are unfair and completely unacceptable. We expected the process to be professional, especially since the College Board has been administering these tests for many years.
It's very likely that this reader's son was severely disadvantaged compared to students at other, better-run SAT testing centers in the country.
If the College Board is serious about reducing inequality in testing, one place it needs to look is testing conditions as test centers.
Have a similar experience? Share it as a comment below.
When you take the SAT or ACT, make sure you know your rights. Speak up if any of these problems happen to you.
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As co-founder and head of product design at PrepScholar, Allen has guided thousands of students to success in SAT/ACT prep and college admissions. He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT. You can also find Allen on his personal website, Shortform, or the Shortform blog.