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More SAT score delays announced

More SAT score delays announced

We’ve known for some time that students taking the inaugural administration of the new SAT in March will not receive results until after the subsequent SAT in May. In a new twist, we’ve now learned that the results of the May SAT will likewise be delayed until after the administration and scoring of the June SAT.  The anticipated delays of both the March and May SAT scores are bad news for students hoping to make feedback-driven adjustments to their test preparation. Scores from previous exams allow students to modify their strategies and hone in on areas where they can improve the most. Here is the current SAT testing and score return schedule from the College Board:

Test Score Return
 December 5   December 22 
 January 23   February 11 
 March 5   “Mid-May” 
 May 7   “Mid-June” 
 June 4   “Mid-July” 


The College Board has been clear that it is delaying the March SAT results – the first round of official results on the redesigned test – in order to compare them to the May results, for scaling and test-norming purposes. Only after it establishes reliable raw-to-scaled conversions (
e.g., miss 14 items, score a 630 on math) will the College Board return the March SAT results. But why the delay for the May scores? The trouble might lie with the redesigned SAT essay. Like the ACT essay (which caused significant score delays this fall) the redesigned SAT essay will certainly take longer to grade, given its increased complexity and length. Delaying the essay score will give the College Board a greater cushion, but why would it delay the scores from the multiple choice sections?  

Whatever the reasons for the anticipated delays, the College Board is wise to set the expectation of an extended timeline early: unexpected delays beget begrudged consumers. This was the pickle the ACT, Inc. got itself into when it was forced to significantly delay essay scores from the September and October ACT administrations. When students are unexpectedly waiting months for their results, nobody is happy.

Given the new results timeline, we must adjust our counsel for spring SAT testing. We believe feedback between tests is essential to optimize scores. If the College Board adheres to the reporting schedule it has announced, the only way for students to receive feedback between testing administrations this spring is to take the March SAT, receive scores in mid-May, and then take the June SAT. We discourage our students from taking the March and May tests sequentially, or the May and June tests sequentially, as scores will be unavailable until after both tests are completed. Feedback between tests is simply too important to the learning process to go without.  

Even with the best of planning, things could go awry during this uncertain time for the new test.  Some school counselors, pointing to the significantly delayed return of scores this year on the new PSAT, have expressed doubts that the College Board will be able to meet its deadlines for SAT score return. If the College Board is unable to return the March scores before the June test, students will be be deprived of critical feedback, and their scores may suffer as a result. Hopefully this will not come to pass.   

We all look forward to a return to normalcy in the scoring process for both the SAT and ACT. Come this fall, the College Board and ACT, Inc. should be able to work out the kinks in their respective grading processes and return scores within the 17-21 day window to which we have become accustomed.    


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  • Johnathan Goldman

    How would you explain an equivalent delay in scores releases for the SAT Subject Tests (May 7 – mid-June, June 4 – mid-July)?
    Subject Test did not undergo any changes, right?