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Rita Neumann

[Update] Timing Mistake in June 6th SAT

June 6 SAT scores are out! Click here to see how you did.

If you think you need to retake the SAT, you’re in luck:

The College Board just announced that it will allow students who took the June 6th SAT to take the October 3rd SAT for free. This comes after a student-led petition asked the College Board to give wronged students a fair chance at the test. The deadline to register for the October 3rd exam is September 3, 2015. Click here for more information, and to register for the retake. Now back to the original post…

Welcome to your nightmare.

If you took the SAT in the United States on June 6th, 2015, then you are one of the 487,000 students affected by College Board’s unfortunate mistake.

June 6th SAT Error

Here’s what happened:

The version of the SAT exam given to students on June 6th, 2015 included a printing error.

This error instructed students that they had 25 minutes to complete the last Reading Section (either section 8 or 9, depending on the edition of the test), when they really only had 20 minutes to complete the section. Proctors had the correct timing instructions. So, at the end of the section in question, students thought they had five minutes left when time was called.

Because of the way the SAT is administered, students in the same room receive different sections at different times (to prevent cheating). So, some students were taking the last Math Section at the same time that other students were taking the last Reading Section. Which means that, though the error occurred in the last Reading Section, students who were taking the Math Section at that time were also affected by the timing error.

Ultimately, this means that two sections of the SAT exam were not standardized.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS – the administration and security provider for the SAT) informed the College Board (the company who makes and owns the SAT) of the error on June 6th, and on June 8th the College Board printed an apology.

What Happens Now?

Sections 8 and 9 (Reading and Math) of the June 6th SAT will not be graded. SAT scores will be determined using only the sections that were standardized, and students will receive their scores within the usual time frame. Colleges and universities will know that these scores are valid, and will not require students to retake the exam.

(You can now breathe a sigh or relief.)

Wondering how this is possible? Well, the SAT exam is designed to accommodate for unpredictability. The ETS and College Board know that things happen – sudden power outages, fire alarms, disruptive behavior (it is high school, after all) – and they designed the SAT to provide accurate scores even when Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head.

This is why the SAT requires you to take multiple sections of the Reading, Writing, and Math tests. This design allows the SAT to collect sufficient information about your test-taking abilities without having to grade each and every section of the test (if need be), and still provide you with a valid score.

Is this fair?

Probably not.

Maybe you had a rough morning and were just getting into the flow by Sections 8 and 9. Maybe you hated the passages in the first Reading Sections, but really got the one in the last section. If this sounds like you, then the College Board’s solution probably won’t work in your favor. And you might want to consider retaking the SAT.

Alternatively, if you used up all your brilliance in sections 1-7 and were exhausted by sections 8 and 9, then this is the miracle you were hoping for.

Either way, the College Board is doing the best it can to correct an unfortunate mistake.

Who Isn’t Affected?

You aren’t affected by this error if:

  • You took the SAT on June 7th instead of June 6th, 2015
  • You took the June 6th SAT outside of the United States
  • You took an SAT Subject Test on June 6th


Opinion Time

As an SAT tutor, I have some thoughts.

First, I think this is outrageous.

Taking the SAT is stressful. We tutor our students to memorize the instructions of each section before going into the test, so that they a) don’t have to waste precious time reading standardized instructions and b) know how to use appropriate pacing strategies for each section. Incorrect timing instructions are not only confusing, but they put well-prepared students at a disadvantage.

In order to do very well on the SAT, you need to be practically perfect. You have to know the exam inside and out, perfect your pacing, and not make any dumb errors. This is what the SAT expects from its students. Students should be able to expect this from the SAT.

Second, I think this is a valuable learning experience.

At the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes. Getting into college shouldn’t require perfection, particularly when it comes to standardized tests. The College Board made a huge error, but it owned up to it. And it didn’t cancel all the scores and require students to take the exam again (the worst case scenario, in most situations).

Taking the SAT is overwhelming, due in large part to the fact that this one exam makes up a huge percentage of your college application. Think about it: you work hard for four years in high school, and your GPA is just one number on your college app. Then you take the SAT exam for four hours on a Saturday morning, and that score is nearly as important as your GPA. This is insane. But it makes you think about your priorities.

I remember being so confused when I was applying to college – some of the reach schools I applied to accepted me, but didn’t accept my equally qualified friends. And vice versa. But it made me realize that there is often no rhyme or reason as to why one student gets accepted over another (at least, not one that I can explain).

As a college applicant, all you can really do is your best – study hard in high school, prep your heart out for the SAT, and make sure to save some time to live your life. So much of the college application process is out of your control. All that matters is that you end up at a college or university that you like, study something you find interesting, and enjoy the process.

So, take some time to be enraged by the College Board’s mistake. I did. Then go enjoy your summer. And if you have any thoughts or questions, leave them in the comments below. I’m more than happy to respond. 🙂

P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
About Rita Neumann

Rita creates fun, inspiring, and educational resources that introduce students to Magoosh and help them prep for their exams. She earned both her BA and Master of Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego, where she also studied Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Rita loves education and marketing, just as much as she loves vinyasa yoga and baking chocolate chip cookies.

4 Responses to “[Update] Timing Mistake in June 6th SAT”

  1. Pavlina says:

    Did this happen in the US only?

    • Rita Neumann Rita Kreig says:

      Hi Pavlina,

      Yes, this only happened in the US. If you took your SAT exam in any other country, you weren’t affected. I hope you lucked out!


  2. Lorna Drejza says:

    Thank you for your words of encouragement! my daughter (only child) and straight A student in honors and advanced Placement courses is currently devastated by the college boards error and her SAT from the June 6th exam result which is NOT a accurate indicater of her abilities. That being said your words are very encouraging to help the students affected by this to know this is a lesson learned in life and to repeat the test and move on. Sometimes life is not fair. It just hurts more when young lives are effected by oversites and lack of attention to detail by the very people who are Judgeing our youth.

    • Rita Neumann Rita Kreig says:

      Hi Lorna,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m really sorry to hear that your daughter was affected by this error, and I share in your disappointment. I hope that she is able to enjoy her summer despite this added challenge. If she’d like to try Magoosh SAT prep, I’d be happy to give her a substantial discount. It might boost her confidence a bit before her retake. 🙂

      All the Best,

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