I spent thousands of dollars on SAT practice, and it looks like it’s going all to waste because College Board keeps canceling SoCal test dates


Photo used with permission from Daniel Kong

Junior Daniel Kong finishes the last of his SAT Prep material from Sapient Academy. Rescheduled in March, Kong’s test has been canceled four times because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniel Kong, Business Manager

The third time wasn’t the charm.

On Dec. 2, I was supposed to take my SAT at Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, but unsurprisingly, College Board canceled the administration of the test.

That cancellation marked the third time that a testing center had shut down its site as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the last bell rang over Zoom on May 28, 2020, the last day of my sophomore school year, I began making summer plans with my friends — until my mom texted me.

“Hey Daniel, you’re starting your SAT Prep at the end of the week, so don’t make any more plans,” she said.

I looked down at my phone, and it was Thursday afternoon. After I finished eating at my friend’s house, I went straight home without any desire to do anything.

Waking up the next morning, I wasn’t shocked to see a 6,000-inch stack of binders with SAT material waiting to be completed on my table from my mom.

So from May 29 to Aug. 7, I took SAT Prep classes at Sapient Academy via Zoom in four-hour sessions five days a week. From Aug. 15 to Nov. 28, the tutor sessions were reduced to three hours every Saturday because classes at Sunny Hills had started by then.

Although the cost of all the tutoring sessions piled up (I’m excluding the amount for personal reasons), I still ultimately decided to continue my SAT tutoring from June to November because I was set on taking the SAT.

According to The Washington Post, as of Jan. 19, College Board has decided to completely discontinue SAT Subject Tests and the optional essays as well as “[aim] to make admission tests ‘more flexible’ and ‘streamlined.’”

Because the SAT optional essays aren’t my strong suit, I’m not too disappointed about College Board’s major decision. Also, seeing College Board actively trying to improve its standardized test shows me that the SAT is headed in the right direction.

For the 2021 and 2022 graduation classes, the University of California system, as well as the California State University system, have temporarily made standardized test score submission optional, several prestigious colleges, both private and public, require test scores such as the Ivy Leagues and the University of Florida.

With my dream schools being primarily private institutions such as the University of Southern California and New York University, I feel pressured to have superior standardized test scores to impress college admission officers.

Both schools have made test scores optional for 2021-2022 applicants. However, according to expertadmissions.com, their decision may change. Not only that, but according to collegetransitions.com, having good standardized scores will help boost my resume when I apply for college and merit aid.

However, because of the COVID-19 situation, the likelihood of taking the SAT, at least in California, seems slim to none. Although I have already signed up for the March SAT at Valencia High School in Placentia, seeing that my past three testing centers have been canceled, I’m prepared to go out-of-state to Arizona or Nevada for the next available test.

In the worst-case scenario, if the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and eventually shuts down the country nationwide, taking the SAT will be a nonviable option.

If that happens, I still plan on applying to most — if not all — of my dream private schools, seeing that I have gotten near-perfect grades throughout my time in high school. But since my grades weren’t perfect, I believe that having superb standardized test scores will help make up for that, which is the reason why I started all this.

Although I’ve spent months and months studying for the SAT, getting my standardized test scores isn’t the most important thing compared to our current global pandemic.

However, I just hope that all my hard work over the summer and school year won’t go unnoticed. I’ll worry about improving my scores, but at this point, all I want is the opportunity to take my SAT.