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Students Petition College Board to Retake June 6 SAT

Some students who were affected by the SAT testing error on June 6 have signed a petition asking the College Board to allow them to retake the test for free.

Courtney Noll and Sarah Choudhury, high school juniors from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., started the petition on the website, change.org, on Tuesday. So far, the site has attracted about 275 supporters and coverage in The Washington Post.

At issue is a decision by the College Board, which administers the SAT, to throw out two sections of the SAT because of a printing error about the time limit. The test booklets incorrectly indicated students had 25 minutes to complete a math or reading section, when the actual time was 20 minutes. The mistake impacted nearly 487,000 students who took the college-entrance exam last Saturday.

On June 8, the College Board issued a statement of apology and assurance to students. The organization maintains all students will receive valid and reliable scores within the usual time frame. Officials for the New-York based nonprofit say that they are communicating directly with students to address any concerns.

But Courtney and Sarah said in a phone interview that the response is not sufficient. They said confusion over the actual time and interruptions from the proctors to clarify meant many students felt rushed. Students left their testing center feeling frustrated and wondering how it would impact their performance, said Courtney.

Initially, when they complained to the College Board, the students said they were told they could take an optional retest the following week. The two took out their flash cards again, texted friends about the opportunity, only to find out there wouldn't be another chance this weekend after all. "They gave us contradictory information," said Sarah. "The fact that there wasn't a retest was pretty disappointing."

They worry the College Board's decision to drop some sections will hurt their scores and even a few points can make the difference in their college applications and scholarships. "A scoring system that deviates from the norm is just not acceptable," said Courtney. "With a test of this caliber, the SAT being one of the most important tests of your high school career, I think everyone is in agreement when they say that it should be graded normally and graded like how we are used to taking it in the practice test."

The next scheduled SAT is not until October when the two say many planned to take the SAT Subject Tests and it may be too late to take the SAT for some scholarship applications.

"Basically, it seems like [College Board] is trying to save their money instead of putting students' interests first," said Sarah.

After the two set up the petition online, they spread the word on social media. They don't know if the petition drive will gain enough traction to get the College Board to change its decision, but they are heartened to see that students from as far away as California and Arizona have responded.

A test expert quoted in an article in The Washington Post today called on the College Board to release the entire June 6 SAT so the public could review the level of difficulty in each section to assess the impact of scoring an abbreviated test.

"A major part of our future is lying in the hands of the College Board where it's OK for them not to be accurate. It's OK to have a little bit of leeway," says Courtney. "That just doesn't seem like it's fair."

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