Important Changes to the SAT and ACT for 2013

If you’ve been through the process before, be prepared for new registration requirements.

By Anne Vaccaro Brady

Lately, I’ve been reading Facebook comments by parents of high school juniors about the challenges of helping their kids register for the SAT and ACT. I decided to investigate.

The tests For those of you who are brand new to the college admissions process, the SAT and ACT are college entrance exams. Most colleges require one or the other, usually without a preference. Kids can, and often do, take both.

The exams are different. The SAT aims to measure intelligence and potential college success through critical reading, math and writing. The ACT focuses on what a student has learned, testing in English, math, reading and science, with an optional writing component. The SAT’s max score is 2400; the ACT’s is 36.

To learn why these tests matter, read my earlier post on this topic here.

Why they made changes You may have heard the stories about students hiring someone to take the test for them. The most notable case occurred in Long Island, New York where several students were arrested in an “impersonation ring.” To prevent further abuses, the College Board, which administers the SAT, and the ACT have installed new registration practices.

The enhanced registration requirements The new registration practices are similar for both exams. Online registration is simplest, but a student can download a form and mail it in to the appropriate test service, too.

  • The SAT and ACT now require students to provide the name of the high school they attend and a clear, current photo (a passport photo or something similar will work). Date of birth and gender must be included, too.
  • In the past, students could show up on test day and register on-site to take the exam if space was available. Not anymore. Standby testing will still be allowed, but  students must register online their intent to test before test day. 
  • Now, students can only change their test center in advance.
Lockland High School, entrance 10

(Photo credit: thetorpedodog)

Noticeable changes on test day Students will need to follow new security measures to enter the testing site.

  • The test admission ticket will include their uploaded photo. Both the photo admission ticket and a photo ID will be required to enter the test center. The examiner’s check-in roster will include the uploaded photo of each registered student.
  • The test center staff will check the student’s name and photo against the admission ticket, photo ID and the test center’s roster before granting entrance. The roster will also include a student’s first and last name, date of birth, gender, attending high school and, for the SAT, test type (SAT or SAT Subject Tests).

Additional security measures during the test Some changes have been made here as well.

  • A student’s ID may be checked after he is admitted to the test. For the SAT, that will include as he enters the test room, reenters the test room after breaks and when he hands in his answer sheet.
  • For the ACT, a student must sign an affidavit that states she is the person listed on the test booklet and answer sheet before and after taking the test, and acknowledge that assuming another person’s identity to take the test can lead to a legal penalty.
  • On the SAT answer sheet, students will have to sign a comprehensive certification affirming the accuracy of the information on their admission ticket and answer sheet; agree to comply with all security and fairness procedures; and like the ACT, acknowledge that false impersonation could result in referral to law enforcement and prosecution.

After the test Both test services will now include each student’s photo and registration information with test scores sent to high schools.

The bottom line These enhanced security measures make sense. They offer the honest kids, who are the majority of test-takers, a better chance of getting a fair shot at college admissions.

To learn more, visit the SAT and ACT websites.

Share your experience with the enhanced SAT and ACT registration process in the comments section below. 

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