Anyone working in the test-prep industry knows that SAT proctors make mistakes—occasionally with devastating consequences. The worst stories involve proctors wrongfully forbidding the use of calculators, accidentally under-timing sections, and refusing to let students turn back to the reference table during a math section.
Such stories aren’t meant to scare you—hopefully your next SAT will go smoothly and without any problems. Still, it’s important to be aware that testing irregularities can happen. In this blog entry, I will list some important test-procedure rules proctors are required to follow. Following this, I will discuss things students can do to minimize the penalty resulting from a proctor who violates these rules.
When administering the SAT, proctors are required to follow these rules, as detailed in The SAT Standard Testing Room Manual:
— Testing rooms must have a visible clock. If there is no visible clock, proctors are required to announce the remaining time of each section at regular intervals (i.e., every five minutes). If a proctor announces the remaining time sporadically or fails to announce at all, he/she is breaking an official rule.
— Proctors must make an announcement when 5 minutes remain before the end of the test or test section.
— Proctors are required to write the start and stop time of each section on the board.
— Over-timing of a section is NOT to affect the time allowed for any other section. If a proctor tries to make up for giving too much time on section 2 by taking time away from section 3, he/she is breaking an official rule.
— Proctors must allow students to make up for under-timing on a section “before concluding the section, allowing a break or dismissing students.” Proctors are to allow full testing time for unaffected sections.
— Proctors MUST give 5 minute breaks after sections 2, 4, and 6. Students may leave the test room (but not the building) during these breaks. Students are also permitted to eat and drink during these breaks.
— Students are allowed to take unscheduled breaks (i.e., bathroom breaks). However, only one student at a time may take an unscheduled break. Students will not be given extra time for taking unscheduled breaks.
— Desks must be at least 12” x 15”.
— Latecomers may be admitted to the test before proctors begin reading the test directions. In addition, proctors must give latecomers time to read the directions on the back cover of the test. Latecomers may complete the identification portion of the answer sheet at the end of the test administration.
— Proctors must allow students to ask questions about test procedure before the test begins.
— Students MAY use calculators while working on a math section. Furthermore, different students will be using calculators at different times during the test, as sections are arranged differently in each test form.
— Students MAY work on any page of the section being administered. However, students are NOT allowed to return to previous sections, or begin working on future sections early.
— Proctors are NOT supposed to talk on the phone, grade papers, or engage in other distracting activities during the test. If your proctor is doing a noisy activity while overseeing the SAT, he/she is breaking an official rule and should be asked to stop.
What you can do to minimize the impact of testing irregularity:
— Don’t be afraid to speak up! You absolutely have a right to speak up if your proctor breaks any of the official rules listed above. If your proctor does not believe they have broken an official rule, refer him/her to The SAT Standard Testing Room Manual.
— Ask to speak to a test-center supervisor if you speak up and your proctor still won’t abide by an official rule. Keep in mind that this is an extreme move—I would recommend this only if there has been a very serious violation that the suggestions below do not address.
— Bring a watch so you can keep track of the remaining time for each section in case your proctor forgets to make announcements.
— Remind the proctor to announce and record the start time of each section. If your proctor accidentally under-times a section, you can correct and prove this by referring your proctor to the start-time he/she wrote down.
— Do NOT wait to test until the last administration before college applications are due. If your score suffers due to testing irregularity, the most the College Board can do is offer a free retest. In case of disaster, it helps to know you have time to test again.
— If all else fails, cancel your scores– Unfair as it is, sometimes the only thing you can do in response to testing irregularity is to cancel your score. There are two ways to cancel scores:
1.) After the SAT but before leaving the test center, ask the test supervisor for a Request to Cancel Test Scores form. Complete, sign, and return the form to the test supervisor before leaving the test center.
2.) To cancel your test score after leaving the center, your written request must be received by 11:59 pm on the Wednesday following the test to cancel your score. You cannot cancel your test score by email or telephone.To cancel your test score after leaving the center, download and print the Request to Cancel Test Scores form. Once you have filled out this form, fax it to (610) 290-8978 or use USPS Express Mail overnight delivery (U.S. Only) to send it to:
Sat Score Cancellation
P.O. Box 6228
Princeton, NJ 08541-6228
Please see the Cancel Test Scores section of the College Board’s website for more information and for how to cancel international scores.
Finally, you can help prevent future errors by reporting testing irregularities to E.T.S. If several students from a test center complain of unfairness or irregularity, E.T.S. will conduct an investigation of the testing procedures followed at that site. To report a testing irregularity, contact the E.T.S. Office of Testing Integrity by phone (800-353-8570), fax (609-406-9709), or e-mail (email@example.com). Students and parents may also contact SAT customer service at (866) 756-7346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors
Sporadic: stopping and starting; irregular