The Fat Envelope
A Discussion Of All Things College Admissions and Test Prep
In case you missed it, the short story is that the College Board is allowing a very small group of students at an exclusive test prep camp to take an official SAT in August.  The resulting firestorm of disgust is certainly founded.  Students, parents and professionals have long asked the College Board for summer test dates.  Summer testing wouldn't interfere with the demands of the school year.  It's unfair.  The second outrageous part of the special administration is that it's only being offered to a very privileged (read, wealthy) group of students who already enjoy a lot of advantages over average students.

I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of days mulling the situation over.  It stinks, and I'm fully in agreement with all of the criticisms already noted.  But there are a couple of points no one seems to have made yet, so of course I can't resist throwing out my two cents.

I feel a bit like these families are getting ripped off by this intensive SAT program.  Having access to the SAT in August officially only costs $49.  The cost of the full program, however, is a whopping $4,500.  If you were getting $4,500 of high quality tutoring, I wouldn't think much about it.  The best of the best is expensive, after all.  But Princeton Review is far from the best of the best.   I've already made it clear what I think about Princeton Review (and its ilk).  Perhaps I'm being silly about this, but I doubt the advantage that comes from having this exclusive test date outweighs the disadvantages of getting expensive, but inferior, preparation.  Imagine how much extraordinary private tutoring you could receive for $4,500!

My other thought - really a question - about this concerns the score reporting.  Apparently, the scores from this special administration will appear as if the student took the June test (which was administered last weekend).  This is ethically very questionable, of course, but my question is this - what happens if a student took the actual June SAT AND this test?  I doubt college would be happy to see two different scores on one test date!  It's possible the College Board didn't allow students to register for both.  But given the ham-handed way the College Board has handled every other aspect of this story, I'm not sure they would have had the foresight to deal with that ahead of time.  No answer on this one, but I'm throwing it out there in case anyone else happens to know.

I'm hopeful there's a positive outcome to all of this.  Since the College Board had to cover its tracks and call this a "pilot program" to assess the feasibility of future summer test dates, widely available summer testing became a lot more likely.  That's good for everyone!

Update:  The College Board has reneged.
Although the August SAT controversy seems to be resolved, I think you have made some good points. Why wasn't the College Board smart enough to figure out these things before they rashly made the decision to provide this SAT test? The test results listed as the June date seems unethical at best.

College Direction
Denver, Colorado
Comment By Susie Watts At 6/6/2012 10:26 AM
Thanks for your input Susie. I'm sure heads will be rolling shortly at CB, if they aren't already! Their cluelessness is staggering.

The ACT, which seems to have a MUCH more savvy marketing plan, would be smart to step in and be the first to offer a summer administration. I'm hoping it happens sooner rather than later - my ADHD/LD tutoring students would benefit enormously from a summer test.
Comment By Jenn At 6/7/2012 9:19 AM
Comments are locked for this post.