Lack of SAT testing centers in the Bay Area creates problems for students

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There is a shortage of testing sites for the SAT, a standardized college admissions test, forcing some Bay Area families to travel to different parts of the state or other states altogether, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Even though the SAT became fully digital this month, students must still take the test at designated testing sites. 

Less than half of the schools that were testing centers before the pandemic have returned, the College Board, which runs the SAT, told the Chronicle. 

Some Bay Area students had to travel at least an hour, most often to Sacramento or Fresno, or to other states, parents, college consultants and test tutors told the Chronicle. 

“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 a San Francisco SAT tutoring center. “If you don’t jump on registration as soon as it opens up, all the (nearby) seats fill up.”

Not all families can afford that option, raising equity concerns, the Chronicle reported. 

The College Board has tried to persuade testing centers that closed during the pandemic to reopen and to ask current test centers to offer more seats, according to the Chronicle. The effort led to 3,000 additional seats at seven new locations in California this past year. 

The board has also set up pop-up testing centers to deal with the shortage of sites, the Chronicle reported. The organization’s School Day Program, which provides in-school tests during a school day, can help as well. 

Some colleges have made the SAT an admissions requirement again; other schools still consider the test optional. The University of California and California State University systems won’t consider the test. But according to the Chronicle, many prospective students believe the test scores can help their admissions chances, even where they’re not required to submit the scores.

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