College Board sends scores late, almost misses deadline

Jonathan Seymour

The College Board was delayed in sending many seniors’ SAT, SAT Subject Test, and AP exam scores to colleges by Nov. 1, the early application deadline of most colleges, causing extra stress during the college application process.

The situation resolved itself as almost all colleges extended their deadlines since the delay was not the students’ faults, Upper School Dean Beth Slattery said.

“At this point, there is no evidence that the delay negatively affected anyone,” Slattery said. “But it is possible that there are scores missing from schools that we have not yet heard from.”

Slattery said that this is the first time in recent years that this score delay has occurred.

“My understanding is that a handful of applicants accidentally double-clicked their score submissions, perhaps at the exact same time, and this caused a chain effect through the system,” Upper School Dean Adam Howard said. “[It] sounds like a glitch that was just waiting to happen due to the huge amount of traffic during this time of year.”

The College Board sent an e-mail to students who had requested that their scores be sent to colleges in time for early applications notifying them of the delay.

“Processing of SAT score report orders placed on or after Oct. 14 is taking longer than expected, and your score reports are among a set that have not yet been sent to the colleges,” the College Board said in the e-mail. “This communication is most relevant for students who are using scores to meet immediate deadlines.

“We are working diligently to deliver all SAT score reports to colleges as soon as possible in order to meet college application deadlines. We will keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, we are reaching out to colleges with deadlines of Nov. 1 to make them aware of the circumstances and are encouraging them to be flexible should scores arrive late.”

Though this delay would not have been a problem for most schools that Harvard-Westlake students apply to, the worry was about some schools such as the University of Michigan that only consider applications during the Early Action period if all aspects of the application have been received by Nov. 1.

“Our only concerns were schools that require all materials in house by due-date, and that’s only a select few,” Howard said. “Most schools posted on their admissions sites about the issue and that they would not hold students accountable for a CB website error.”

However, even schools with more rigid policies responded to the score delay by extending their deadlines.

“At first I was worried since one of the places I applied to is very strict with deadlines,” Arjun Mahajan ’16 said. “I talked to my dean, and she said that after talking to the representative from the college, it would still be up in the air whether I would qualify for Early Action given that my scores [were] sent a day later than the deadline. Ultimately, it turned out I did qualify for Early Action, which I was happy about.”

Though it caused much extra stress during an already stressful few months of college applications, the whole situation turned out to be ‘much ado about nothing,’” Howard said.

“I think the worry was legitimate initially because it was not immediately clear how long it would take for everything to get resolved,” Slattery said. “Ultimately, the worry was for nothing, but I understand why people were worried.”

Though the College Board’s delay in sending scores was the first one in recent memory, it was the most recent in a string of glitches that have happened throughout the application period.

In previous years, multiple colleges’ websites and even the Common Application website have crashed for various reasons, including an overload of applications being submitted at the same time.

“Students were following the instructions given by their deans based on years of experience, so I don’t think this was the students’ fault at all,” Slattery said. “In addition, many students need to wait for October scores to come back before determining what to send, so suggesting they send them in early October to avoid this kind of mishap doesn’t seem reasonable.”

Mahajan has mixed feelings about the whole experience, expressing both his frustration at the extra stress that he felt as well as his understanding that it was just a mistake.

“It was a strange experience,” Mahajan said. “On one hand I was irritated at [the] College Board for delaying, and even more so at the college for not understanding that it wasn’t my fault. On the other hand though, I understand that deadlines need to be respected and perhaps I could have more thoroughly planned.”

To prevent this problem from happening again in the future, Howard suggests that those who have the ability to send scores earlier than a week or two before the deadline should do so, both in December and January during the regular application period, and for next year as well.

“If any type of fear was prompted by this, it was for the students who waited until the last week or so to submit,” Howard said. “As the deans have said all year, get the scores in early, and then you don’t have to worry about it. This will hopefully ring louder for the Regular Decision deadlines.”

“My feeling is that just like students occasionally mess up during the college process, so do colleges and testing organizations,” Slattery said. “I think everyone is doing the best they can, but mistakes happen.”