California's SAT Seating Shortage

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Millions of students took the new digital SATs on Saturday, May 4. However, even before the tests begin, parents and students are already stressed out due to the challenge of finding available seats to take the tests. The shortage of testing sites in both the Bay Area and across California is resulting in families having to travel long distances to access testing facilities. Reports from parents, teachers, and college consultants, reveal that many are journeying to cities like Sacramento or Fresno. In certain cases, individuals are even forced to travel beyond these locations to find available testing centers.

Challenges of New Digital SAT Testing in California and Its Impacts

The College Board, responsible for overseeing the SAT, have acknowledged the challenges facing families in the Bay Area. Less than half of the schools that previously served as testing centers have resumed this role post-pandemic. As the demand for SAT testing surges among students, many testing centers are unprepared to manage the sudden influx, particularly with renowned universities like Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth, and others recently reversing their test-optional policy. These announcements intensify the pressure on students to secure SAT testing slots amidst limited availability.

Numerous out-of-state schools offer automatic scholarships based on specific score criteria. Without the opportunity to take the test, California residents are automatically excluded from these and other scholarship opportunities, resulting in missing out on billions of dollars in scholarships. 

Obtaining a testing seat has become a race against time, with nearby slots filling up rapidly once registration opens. The College Board have set up temporary "pop-up" and efforts are underway to reopen closed centers and increase seating capacity, resulting in 3,000 new seats across seven locations in California. Additionally, 6,000 more seats will be added in the Bay Area for the upcoming May and June SAT test weekends, though details on timing and locations are pending. The June 1st scheduled test date is currently open for registration, but others will be available soon.

Anticipated 2024–25 SAT Test Dates

August 24, 2024
October 5, 2024
November 2, 2024
December 7, 2024
March 8, 2025
May 3, 2025
June 7, 2025

Equity Concerns with SAT Testing Sites in California

The scarcity of SAT testing sites in California extends beyond mere inconvenience—it also raises significant equity concerns, according to experts. 

For some students, logistical barriers compound the issue. They may lack transportation options, making it difficult to reach testing sites located dozens of miles away from their homes or schools. This situation disproportionately affects underrepresented students, who may excel on standardized tests despite not having exceptionally high-grade point averages. The College Board has introduced School Day program as a means to address the accessibility gap by allowing schools or districts to conduct in-school testing sessions during regular school days.

SAT Counselor Tips for SAT Seating Shortage

In dealing with the SAT testing shortage, our expert SAT counselors advise to plan ahead smartly. Starting preparations early ensures enough time to get ready for the test thoroughly. Aim for a good score in one attempt, but if needed, make sure you have enough time to try again.

Strategic planning also involves avoiding scheduling tests or test preparation during busy school or application seasons. By doing so, students can focus better on their preparation without distractions and manage their academic and extracurricular commitments effectively.


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7EDU Impact Academy 7 May, 2024
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