SAT in Amherst, Massachusetts for a mere $4,495

SAT will be administered August 3, 2012 in Amherst, Massachusetts for a mere $4,495

When Henry Chauncey launched the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in 1947, which was and still is today, the exclusive test creation service for the College Board’s SAT, he was firmly convinced that he and his brilliant social engineers would revolutionize student assessment.

Chauncey believed that the creation of a standardized test would help sort out the most promising students, and would be “the moral equivalent of religion but based on reason and science rather than on sentiments and tradition.” (p. 68-69 The Big Test, Nicholas Lemann, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2000)     

What Chauncey sought to create was a world of meritocracy based upon the SAT. The years have proven this goal to be elusive. The organization Fair Test, which consists of over 850 four-year colleges including Wake Forest, Smith College, Hamilton College and Middlebury, make standardized test submission optional in their admissions decisions. What has happened over the last week might entice other colleges to join the Fair Test ranks.  An announcement by the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) confirmed a groundbreaking “partnership between NSGT University Prep and the College Board.”

The NSGT will offer a three-week intensive SAT program in Amherst College this August for the price of $4,495. At the conclusion of the program a special August 3rd administration of the SAT will be offered. Only students enrolled in the NSGT program will be able to take this August SAT. The College Board has never allowed a mid-summer administration of the SAT. Nor has it ever administered an SAT that restricted access to only those who are in a special test prep program.  

For those who have had to submit to the tortures of taking the SAT in June or October (either during finals, or in the midst of taking four AP Courses during senior year) what a luxury it would be to focus solely on the SAT after an intense 3 weeks of constant review, and take the test on August 3rd. To make this preferential treatment even more questionable, the College Board has decided, so that the colleges cannot identify this special set of August test takers among its applicant pool, to report that the test was administered on 2 June 2012.

Joseph Soares, a professor of Sociology at Wake Forest, and the author of several books including SAT Wars: The Case for Test-Optional College Admissions that led Wake Forest to become a test-optional school, stated bluntly that the partnership between NSGT and the College Board “exposes the hypocrisy of the College Board’s rhetoric about the SAT being a fair way to democratize and expand access to higher education.”

HECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association, to which I and 647 other college counselors belong, sent off a message to the College Board requesting it reconsider its decision to offer an August test date to a select few at the Amherst test prep program. The note concludes by mentioning, “We consider this a matter of fairness, equity, and ultimately, access.”