Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to guess on the SAT, right?
First of all, that’s wrong. You should guess on the SAT and the ACT -- there isn’t a correction factor, so you can only gain points by guessing and filling in all of the answers.
But the bigger question is why are the College Board (which owns the SAT) and the ACT guessing when it comes to security and proctoring? If you ran a multimillion-dollar organization, would you trust your fate to part-time employees who didn’t work for you?
Incredibly, that’s exactly what’s happening: at many SAT and ACT sites, the tests are not proctored by SAT and ACT test experts with years of experience. Instead the SAT and ACT tests are largely run by high school administrators, teachers and counselors.
Over the last 30 years, I have prepared thousands of students for the SAT and ACT, and I’ve heard a simply amazing array of horror stories about SAT and ACT test administration.
The main test administrator who forgot to show up for the test and students were unable to take the test that day.
A test administrator who brought her dog into the test and asked students if it was OK to leave the dog there during the test. The students said, “Of course.” What else could they say? The dog proceeded to bark loudly throughout the entire test.
Students shorted time because test administrators got confused … Students who said that they had trouble concentrating because the test administrators were speaking too loudly … Students with accommodations for learning disabilities who were permitted to take their tests over five days!
Amazingly, some test administrators whom I have spoken with tell me that they haven’t seen anyone from the College Board or the ACT at their test sites for months, even years!
And that doesn’t even count all the problems that have surfaced recently with the college admissions scandal. I am certain that an official SAT or ACT representative would have questioned a 36-year-old man who was taking the SAT or ACT and then stopped him from taking the test for a high school student.
Why are the College Board and the ACT allowing high school administrators, counselors and teachers to run these crucial college admissions examinations? We all know the answer: it’s cheap. But with the savings comes a cost: difficult problems that can’t be solved by part-time school employees who are doing their best but don’t have the experience or authority to handle these types of situations.
The solution is simple -- the College Board and ACT should run all of the tests with only their own people. If that’s not feasible, there should always be at least one official test company representative at each site to supervise that tests are being administered correctly. The official test company representative should arrive a day early and train the high school employees who will assist in proctoring the exam. Yes, the official test company representative might still need to be a part-time employee, but at least they would be a part-time employee who works directly for the College Board or the ACT.
True, the price of taking the SAT or ACT could rise. But believe me, it’s worth it to have these tests run properly. And anyone who couldn’t afford the price of the test could apply for a fee waiver or cost reduction.
Obviously there will be a significant cost to make these changes. But if employing proper security and proctoring means that the College Board and ACT profits decrease slightly, too bad. It’s hard to believe that these companies would be so myopic as to take risks with their tests being discarded as college admissions tools instead of continuing to show the public that the integrity of their tests is the most important priority of all.