Limited options for SAT test sites

Parents across San Diego County travel dozens of miles just to get their child to take an SAT exam.

Parents, Anthony and Jackie Flannery, tried to help their daughter, who is in first grade at Point Loma High School, pass an SAT exam. They went to the College Board website, picked a date, and picked a testing location. In January, they picked a March test date at Escondido.

“We showed up at the test site and there were crickets and a few people walking around,” Anthony shares. “And [there was] very little notice that the test had in fact been cancelled.

And that wasn’t the only test that was canceled.

Through his daughter’s portal, Anthony shows me the second canceled test date, “The June 4th date that was at Hilltop High School.”

In June, they were able to choose a different location, in Thermal, Calif., which for the Flannerys was nearly a three-hour drive away.

ABC10 News contacted the 17 school districts in San Diego County that have high schools. Of all the districts, there are only 18 sites available within a hundred mile radius of Point Loma.

For a test date of August 27, only 7 options still had seats the week of June 6. The closest was Fallbrook Union Highschool, which is 42 miles from Flannery’s home.

“By not holding the test near people’s homes, by making it really difficult, by canceling it, you not only demoralize the child’s preparation for the task that is important to do well, you limit it also really for people who can’t do things like drive very far,” shares Anthony.

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, as of May nearly 2,000 4-year colleges and universities, including 132 in California, did not require SAT/ACT scores for their incoming students in fall 2022.

According to the same website, 84 campuses have adopted the same “No Score” requirement, for those applying in 2022 and beyond. This includes California State Universities and the University of San Diego.

All UC schools no longer require SAT/ACT scores.

“When they say testing optional, yes it’s optional,” says Jackie, “but that doesn’t mean it’s not influential.”

Most county districts that previously tested sites said they did not apply to become one again, as 66% of US colleges and universities, including many in California, do not test students.

However, for children like Flannery’s daughter, her dream school, MIT, demands it.

This family hopes the county will heed their plea and not limit testing opportunities for those who want it.

“It’s important that we make it accessible to everyone,” says Anthony, “and encourage kids who might want to take it, the option, without having to jump through those hoops.”

ABC10 News has reached out to the College Board to find out why some areas are testing sites and not others. We also contacted the Ministry of Education for their opinion on the limited options. We are still awaiting a response.