As Priyanshu Pokhrel, 18, entered the halls of Ullens School, Khumaltar, to sit for her Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) exam that she had been preparing for months, little did she – and fifty other test takers – know that they would not be able to apply to their dream colleges in the United States with no fault of theirs.
The SAT, a standardized test crucial for college admissions in the United States, is wholly owned, developed, and published by the College Board. The College Board is a not-for-profit organization in the United States.
“The tests before October were canceled due to Covid, and the test on October 2 was the only one we had if we wanted to meet our early-decision college application deadlines – November 1 and November 15. But our scores were never released, which should have been with us by the end of October,” said Pokhrel, who aspires to study Economics in the US.
Nepali students aspiring to study in the United States have been forced to withdraw their early-decision college applications or had to apply without their SAT scores, weakening their applications. Despite multiple attempts at communications, the College Board has disregarded the plight of international students, jeopardizing their future.
“I have called the College Board about five times now, and they never had a concrete answer as to why my test results were being delayed. The only communication we received after a month and a half of taking the test, was on November 19 that said they hadn’t received our answer sheets from our test center,” says Akshat Ale, 17, who recently sat for his board examinations.
Fifty-one test-takers who appeared for their SAT exams at Ullens School haven’t received their scores. They expressed their frustration through a Reddit post detailing the order of events and the unresponsiveness of the College Board in dealing with the matter.
Ullens School has provided images and documents of the DHL shipment of the exam papers to Pearson Processing Center in the US, which was delivered on 8 October 2021.
“After we came to realize that test-takers haven’t received their results – that they are fully entitled to – we reached out to College Board. After contacting them multiple times, they finally responded saying that they hadn’t received the package, which was false given the DHL delivery papers. Later they argued the package was empty, but the delivery paper clearly reads 2.02kg/4.45lbs,” explained Medin Lamichhane, the Principal of Ullens School.
The official email sent by the College Board on November 19, says the test-takers will receive a full refund since they hadn’t received a full shipment of the answer sheets assuming they were damaged or lost in transit.
This email does not come as a relief to test-takers and college applicants. They find the College Board’s lack of communication and abrupt re-funding email irresponsible and sketchy.
“The College Board responded to our desperate calls and emails after a month of paper delivery. Why didn’t they email us saying they hadn’t received the papers or lost them immediately after receiving the package? This is sheer negligence and utterly irresponsible on their part,” said Udgam Bhattarai, 17, who had to switch his early decision college preference fifteen days before the deadline.
SAT scores are especially crucial to international applicants. It helps standardize international applicants’ knowledge and college readiness that assists colleges to predict their academic success. In addition, SAT scores are significant to securing merit-based scholarships.
“I’m applying as an international student seeking financial aid. Not having an SAT score to report would automatically reduce my chances of making it to a great university with a substantial financial package,” says Ale, who aspires to major in Data Science.
The next SAT tests are taking place on December 4 but the tests are fully booked. Test-takers are requesting an expansion in the number of seats or a makeup test for the fifty-one test-takers in a quandary.
“At this point, the most ideal situation is to be able to either sit for a test on December 4 or to be able to sit for a makeup test, so that we have scores to show by the January deadline. If they ask me to go take a test tomorrow, I’d be more than happy to. I am that desperate at this point,” says Bhattarai.
Despite persistent emails from test-takers, the College Board hasn’t responded to their requests.
“We even tried contacting the American Embassy and they suggested we contact Fulbright, but that won’t do much either, in my opinion,” said Pokhrel.
With no seats available in the next examination to be held on December 4, students are worried that they might be unable to meet the regular decision deadline as well.
“Initially, when we requested a makeup exam for those test-takers with the College Board, they refused. How can they refuse though? It’s a mistake on their part, and they should allow students to take the test. We are persistently pushing for a makeup test as of now,” said Lamichhane.
The next available test dates for SAT exams are in March, and most regular-decision college application deadlines are in January, which slims their possibility of attending good universities with financial packages.
“Should we lose another year because the College Board messed up?” asked Pokhrel.