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The snowstorm on the East Coast is unfortunately causing many test centers to reschedule the January 23rd SAT exam. Any reasonable person can appreciate that the weather conditions make it impossible to have the SAT at the regular time – this in itself is annoying – not upsetting. However there are two unique considerations that are turning this situation into another negative publicity fiasco for the College Board.

The make up date is February 20th – during February break.

For families that had not planned on going away, this is no problem at all. The 4 additional weeks until the new date can be seen as an unneeded delay by some and as a welcome chance for additional practice by others. However, for families that have vacations planned this is more than an inconvenience. If this was a normal year, it would just be an inconsiderate move by the College Board and vacationing families would simply miss the exam and take the SAT in the future instead. No big deal. But this is not a normal year [in the SAT world].

This is the last administration of the old SAT.

After this exam, the redesigned SAT will be the only option. This means that families that had travel plans are faced with the following choice:

1) Cancel the family vacation and suffer lost deposits and airfare, so the student can give their best effort on the final chance of the current SAT, or
2) Go on the vacation as planned and force the student to have to miss their last (and in many situations only) opportunity on this version of the SAT

Both of these options are bad. If you choose option one, everyone misses out on the vacation and the student is now forced to take the SAT with an ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF PRESSURE. During the exam, how can a student avoid the thought “I better do incredibly well because my family sacrificed our vacation for this.” If you choose option two, how is the student going to be able to enjoy the vacation knowing that he or she is missing out on an important exam. How will the rest of the family enjoy the vacation under that circumstance?

If you find yourself in this unfortunate position, I have some thoughts on what to do.

Go on vacation.

Life goes on. There are other exams. There are three chances for the new SAT (which isn’t a bad test at all) this spring (March, May, and June). The ACT exam is a great option with exams offered in April, June, and a couple more in the fall. This is not the end of the world and this is an important opportunity to learn that you can’t let a less than ideal outcome derail your life. Don’t let the College Board keep you from taking your much needed vacation!

Just be glad you’re not the College Board. They can’t seem to avoid negative publicity; remember when they made a big error on the June SAT? Even Harvard University is pushing for an elimination of the SAT as an admissions requirement.