College Board Drops Plan For At-Home SAT Tests, Lacks Space for Needed Tests

The college board is throwing in the towel on at-home SAT tests, after a hit-and-miss experience with this spring’s A.P. tests–up to 20% of students on some early tests experienced trouble with the testing site and uploading responses for their AP exams.

More Colleges Will Be Dropping the SAT Requirement

Only yesterday, I posted on the responses of different universities and systems to the problems posed for students trying to boost SAT scores going into late admissions decisions, and for this fall’s college applications. Some important colleges and systems are dropping the SAT and the ACT already, most notably the University of California, which is dropping both tests going forward at least five years. They plan to look at developing their own test during that suspension of the current standardized tests, as I discussed in the post linked above.

The testing-industrial industry is still doing SAT/ACT test prep, of course, and promoting the tests, no doubt adding strategies for getting one of the limited seats that will be available. But there is alos no doubt that they are also in preliminary discussions on how to pivot to prepping for whatever new test the U.C. may come up with, should they come up with one. But that is not your problem, unless you are in 8th grade, as you read this.

The tests proceed, but who will require them?

Hours after posting on the evolving testing situation (linked above), I received a notification that the SAT was dropping its plans to attempt an at-home SAT. This is a good decision, given the impossible challenge of preventing cheating, which is another way to say, the challenges of creating a level playing field. (Add: the A.P. tests were open-book. Hard to control the effects of open books on the SAT.) But of course, since their business is giving tests, The College Board is still trying to proceed–but they do not have enough testing sites, or to put it more specifically, the College Board is never going to find enough space to safely separate the number of students needing to take the test. The results are predictable, with the College Board stating today that they are experiencing a test registration overload–scroll down and you can see that they admit lacking capacity, and suggest you look at alternate dates and alternate test sites–driving to Elko soon, anybody?

So expect this outcome: more colleges will drop their SAT requirement, and in doing that, they will almost certainly drop the ACT as well–it faces the same challenges. As smaller organization, not offering the massive suite of tests and “services” that the College Board incorporates, the ACT has fewer problems, but it does have that one huge problem everybody has: ACT will also find it difficult to impossible to find enough space, and I see no way they can guarantee a safe testing environment.

Given that it’s a legal requirement for schools to offer a safe environment for learning, no doubt even the Ivy League is going to have to start reconsidering its test-positive stance. I reported on the continuation of test polices of Harvard and Princeton in my last post. I will be suprised if they do not revisit this policy soon. Stay tuned for more.

College Application Essays for 2020-2021

Final note–I see that many of my current readers are looking at my posts on how to write a range of college essays, from the U.C. through the Ivy League. Please do note that my posts so far are from last year. Many of the essay prompts will stay the same this year, but please be aware that some will change or be tinkered with.

I will be starting to post on the 2020-2021 essay prompts next week, as I make some calls and check websites and sources to confirm which prompts are ready to go.

Y’all come on back soon.