You are currently viewing Bay Area students are competing for the SAT. This is why the test is becoming more difficult

The SAT -the test for college admissions that has been feared by generations of teens in high schools and condemned by a few experts in the field as discriminatoryis currently nearing the point of no return.

The test was last month is now entirely online, however students are still required to take the test at specific testing websites. In addition, some elite universities who resisted the test in the epidemic are beginning to requiring it once more. The Bay Area and across California the lack of test places is straining families and causing families to travel, often to other statesand stand in long queues.

The challenges and changes come with college admissions continuing to be a high-risk extremely competitive and nerve-wracking rites of passage for all high school students of the state and when families are struggling to pay for higher education.

Many high school juniors who are preparing for college applications the application process begins in the early hours — and includes the struggle to register for the SAT. Even though it’s true that the University of California and California State University systems will not even look at the test results, and some institutions have made it mandatory however, some private and out of state institutions still require these tests. A lot of applicants believe that test results can boost their chances of admission even if they’re not required to provide their scores.

Certain Bay Area students recently had to travel for an hours or more to sit the test, usually in Sacramento or Fresno according to parents college consultants, college advisors and tutors for test. Some were even forced to travel even further.

“I get plenty of stories here of people having to travel to Barstow or Nevada or Oregon to take the test,” said Erin Billy, who runs TestMagic the San Francisco SAT tutoring center. “If you don’t jump on registration as soon as it opens up, all the (nearby) seats fill up.”

Sarah Feldman, an independent college admissions consultant residing in Alameda She said that the families of some clients’ are planning vacations or spring break dates in locations that have SATs are offered. Feldman’s daughter is a junior, has decided against taking the SAT due to the anxiety.

“I just don’t understand why they make it so difficult,” said Caroline Gould of Albany, the mother of twins. “Why should they force people to travel for at least an hour? It doesn’t make sense.”

The College Board, the nonprofit which runs the SAT acknowledges the challenge of registering to take the exam in areas like the Bay Area. Only a quarter of the schools that had testing centers prior to the pandemic have returned, according to the report. To combat the problem of shortages the board has set up several “pop-up” testing centers like one that was set up on March 9 at South San Francisco Conference Center close to San Francisco International Airport.

“We are looking for opportunities to open more pop-up test centers,” the board noted, “but that is not our top choice. Testing centers and schools provide the most familiar experience of taking tests to students.”

The absence of SAT testing centers in California isn’t just an inconvenience, it has implications for equity experts have said. Many families cannot afford to take their child across the country to take the test, or take the SAT vacation.

Students may not be able a ride, or perhaps get a bus ride to a place that is miles or more away from their place of residence and school.

“It is unbelievably inequitable,” David Blobaum who runs an organization that provides tutoring for test-taking within New Jersey and is on the board of directors for the National Test Prep Association. Blobaum said that the absence of tests is particularly detrimental to underrepresented students who might not have better grade points, but who perform excellently in tests.

The College Board said its School Day program could allow more students to take the tests. It allows districts or schools to pay the company to arrange tests in schools in the normal school day, removing the necessity to compete to get a seat in a school session that is held during a Saturday, and allowing students to take tests in a familiar context. Schools Day tests are generally provided to juniors during the spring, and to seniors in the autumn. Discounts are offered to schools or districts that have many students from low-income families who are taking the test.

Many schools benefit from the program, ranging from elite private schools to massive urban districts. However, within the Bay Area, neither San Francisco Unified School District nor Oakland Unified School District offer SAT School Days tests, but at least two districts that are San Ramon Valley Unified and Fremont Unified — do on their respective websites. Although it is true that the College Board did not provide the list of schools that offer this SAT School Day, it stated the following “nearly 100 public schools” within the Bay Area participate and that all schools are qualified.

Based on the College Board, slightly more than half of the SATs completed by students in California in 2023 were conducted in the school hours at students’ schools.
Some people don’t think it’s fair and especially for those who do not get access to School Day program. Gould’s daughters go to various schools. One attends Albany High School, the other at a private school. The public school student needed to jog to locate the test site that was far away in spring. Another “had it handed to her on a silver platter,” Gould explained. She completed the test last week at her school.

“It’s definitely not fair,” she declared.

Jonathan Fong, a chemistry teacher at San Francisco’s Lowell High School who helps the district to coordinate testing, explained that the district does not participate with this School Day program because it requires every school to pay for administrative costs and change the schedule and staffing. This reduces the time for instruction and makes it more difficult to locate suitable spaces to conduct tests.

“Offering the SAT during the school day at various high schools in SFUSD would require many changes to our students’ school day,” the official said. “SFUSD operates one of the biggest testing centres within the San Francisco Bay Area for each of the seven SAT tests on Saturdays. This enables students to have different dates to take to the exam within San Francisco without impacting students during school hours.”

Due to the scarcity of seats available for seats for Saturday SAT examinations, Lowell, which serves as a testing center for weekends and has added 350 seats every spring testing day which brings the total number of seats available to 900, he added which makes this one of California’s biggest testing centers.

The dearth of testing slots has been an issue over time, but the issue became more severe in the wake of the epidemic in which high schools were shut down in many states, and the admissions test was also eliminated. Test scores were made optional for admissions in 2021 at almost every university while some have made admissions tests optional for a number of years, or for a long time.

Concerns over long-standing inequality in socioeconomic and racial status within the SAT The University of California decided to not take into consideration SAT scores at all, and other institutions like the California State University system and others also followed suit by declaring their SAT processes “test blind.”

Over the last few weeks, however some of the nation’s most prominent universities have shifted their the course. Dartmouth College, Brown University, Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin have announced that they’ll begin requiring applicants to provide SAT as well as ACT scores.

With the future of the SAT at the moment, especially in California certain experts are questioning how much the College Board’s devotion to the state and potential college students has diminished.

“The College Board is not putting as many resources into California because of that uncertainty” about the schools that will be required or look at the SAT according to Aaron Andrikopoulos, co-owner of AJ Tutoring, which has been coaching Bay Area students on SATs since 2003.

The College Board insists neither is accurate.

“We’ve heard from California students and their interest in taking the SAT remains strong,” the organization released the statement. “Students would like of submitting scores to colleges and a few travel far for a test since there are limited seats available in their area. We understand that this can be difficult for families and students.”

The board has said it’s trying to convince the test centers that shut down during the outbreak to open again, and soliciting current testing centers to expand their seating capacity. The efforts have resulted in 3000 seats in seven new test centers in California over the last year, according to the board.

In addition, 6,000 more seats will be added to The Bay Area on the next two SAT test weekend in May and June which were both oversubscribed this week, the release added. Information on the dates and locations the seats will be added to the test were not provided.

But in the event that California students are excluded of taking the exam they could lose billions in scholarships, as per Blobaum who is a member of the National Test Prep Association.

“So many out of state schools in particular have automatic scholarships for students who meet certain score thresholds,” he explained. “Without the opportunity to test, California residents are automatically excluded from these and other scholarships.”

Parents must insist on schools offering SAT tests to compensate for the shortfall the expert said, noting to the report that New Jersey schools in his area were forced to do so by parents.

While you wait, Billy of TestMagic suggests that those who haven’t been capable of registering for the SAT at the right time and place continue to search online and keep searching for opportunities, which are created when cancellations start to come in and usually disappear just as fast.

“You could sit there all day and refresh,” he added. “And you might have some luck.”