WASHINGTON - The College Board acknowledges that test booklets for hundreds of thousands of students taking the SAT college entrance exams last Saturday carried an error, but says it won't affect test scores.
The board's website on Tuesday says the error appeared in test books provided to students across the nation who took the test that day — about 487,000. According to the board, the test booklets from the Educational Testing Service incorrectly stated that 25 minutes were allotted for the last reading section. Because of the way the test is administered, students taking the last math section in the same room also were affected.
The board, however, said the manual provided to supervisors overseeing the exam had the correct 20-minute limit for those sections. As soon as ETS learned of the misprint that day, it worked "to provide accurate guidance to supervisors and administrators" overseeing the test, the board said.
All students who took the SAT that day are affected. The board says sections with the incorrect time limit will not be scored, but that it will still be able "to provide reliable scores for all students."
"We have deliberately constructed both the reading and the math tests to include three equal sections with roughly the same level of difficulty," the board said in its statement. "If one of the three sections is jeopardized, the correlation among sections is sufficient to be able to deliver reliable scores."
The omission of one section was criticized by Bob Schaeffer, education director at the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest.
"The College Board/ETS took the course of least resistance by announcing they would score the test without an entire section," Schaeffer said. "If reliable and valid scores can be generated from June 6 exams despite a missing section, why do students at other SAT administrations have to spend the additional time answering questions that the test-makers now say are unnecessary?"