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The test prep professionals at Ivy Bound would like to see a better SAT administered by The College Board. When administered well, the SAT provides a decent standard for colleges to assess potential applicants, which encourages students to aspire to master it.

blog-tutorstudentAs owners of an AP monopoly and half owners of an SAT/ACT duopoly, it is hard for parents, students and even test prep professionals to relate to The College Board. Amid some publicized cheating, The College Board’s image has become almost completely opaque.

Dramatically changing the format of the SAT didn’t help. A once-reliable standard that students could prep well for suddenly became difficult and unpredictable. An experimental section was unexpectedly added in March, the first test results were delayed so students could not adequately prepare for the spring SAT and the right for non-students to the SAT was taken away without notice.

One Ivy Bound tutor who took the May SAT initially thought that she would be able to take the test in a classroom with students, just as she had in years past. However, this time she was told that adult test takers must take the test in a separate environment.

“Are you going back to school?” the proctor asked her. The tutor answered honestly that she was a tutor seeking to log a strong score on the new SAT. “You know that’s frowned upon,” one of the proctors said, to which the tutor replied, “Yes, in the sense that tutors were banned from taking the March test, but we are allowed to take this test.” She added that tutors taking the test help keep The College Board honest, “because we know whether the test aligns with the Official Guide.”

Professional tutors know what The College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide contains; tutors can assess how the real test measures up to what has been publicized, far better than students under pressure. Tutors also gain valuable insights from taking the test under timed conditions.

Separating adult test takers from students because they might convey information is simply wrong. The College Board should welcome general information to be well-known to students! Specific information, like advance test questions, should be locked away until the test is given. However, a future test should never repeat past questions, but concepts. Future tests should adhere to the general format, general level of difficulty and general types of questions so that students are not faced with the unexpected. A random test can never be a respected standard.

When adults are placed in a different room to discourage cheating, this sends students the wrong message. If vigilant proctoring can’t prevent cheating, it suggests that the SAT arrangement doesn’t always work. Tutors should not be under suspicion for this reason, as there could very well be student cheaters in the room who are allowed to stay. When a student is suspected of cheating, his or her scores are reported as an “irregularity” for all college admissions committees to see. By adhering to this “tried and true” method, The College Board shouldn’t need to fear any unnoticed cheating by any test taker.

The College Board claims to want to assure fairness to every student. Even if tutors are not “students,” it should keep them in the testing room.