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Valley families navigate SAT testing troubles amid the pandemic

Posted at 7:25 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 10:25:40-04

COVID-19 is complicating the SAT testing process this spring.

Limited testing centers and mitigation measures are pushing some high schoolers to cross state lines for their chance to take it, but is it worth the effort?

Chandler High School junior Autumn Towne was first scheduled to take the SAT on Saturday, March 13.

"The only test center available was in Buckeye, Arizona, which is an hour from my house," said Towne.

She made the trek to Youngker High School and waited about an hour for the test to begin, only to be sent back home.

"She said they had lost 60 test booklets and that since there were students from California there that had driven farther, they decided to send the Arizona juniors home," Towne said. "So I drove home."

In all, 39 students were unable to test. The College Board telling ABC15 that a "delivery delay" was behind the mixup, and that "available materials were distributed to as many students as possible with no preference given."

Towne rescheduled, at no cost, for Saturday, March 27.

This particular scenario is unique but students traveling long distances to take their tests are becoming more common.

"My aunt is a teacher in Seattle and she said that some of her students have flown, flown to other states to take it," said Towne.

Ongoing closures and COVID protocols are pushing students toward states like Arizona.

"It's just a logistical mess," said Erin Goodnow, CEO of Going Ivy. Her Phoenix-based company is a college admissions, tutoring and test prep consulting group.

Goodnow says families should consider the pros and cons of even taking the SAT or ACT since colleges have made them optional for current juniors and seniors.

"They realize this is still happening, they're still being stressed out by this, so many, many colleges are again extending that and we're looking at this into the future," Goodnow said.

The College Board website lists testing dates, locations, center closures and coronavirus updates.

"If you have the opportunity to take the test and it's not going to be too stressful on you then yes, take it, " said Goodnow.

However, if the logistics or uncertainty are just too much this year, Goodnow says students can focus their efforts on other areas.

"Instead you should balance your effort with the other things that you're doing that will impress colleges more so, and in the long term, than just a one-day test," she said.