I had done my best never to lie (a general life policy of mine) when registering. The closest I probably came to telling something that wasn’t quite true was saying that I was “schooled at home” when I could not figure out how to register as a nonstudent. Listing the high school I attended almost 20 years ago felt irrelevant.
I tried at various points to answer that I was no longer in school, but it was never clear how successful I was at communicating that fact. The SAT said it wanted the name of my high school so they could tell my guidance counselor information about me. I graduated high school when Bill Clinton was president and my guidance counselor retired long ago. In fact, I went to high school with one of the current guidance counselors at my old high school—but I graduated before he did.
The registration process seemed complicated. (I wanted to say onerous here, but the new SAT doesn’t test such words anymore and I’m trying to get in the right mindset here.)
To be fair, my registration experience was complicated by the fact that I’m not the typical SAT test taker. But the process is long and complicated for everyone. The complication is made slightly more difficult for “nontraditional” test-takers like me (but if 7th grade talent search participants register through Duke TIP during talent search registration period, they bypass this step completely and don’t have to go through the SAT website).
In what felt a little like participating in a census, the SAT asks how many AP or IB courses I’d taken; what my extracurricular activities were; what colleges I want to attend; college setting, college size, college school color preferences; whether I plan to live on campus; if I plan to apply for financial aid; whether I plan to have a part-time job during college; and many other details. Okay, I made up one of those.
As a researcher who has designed numerous surveys and used them for data collection, I am hugely empathetic to SAT here. Such surveys may feel long and sometimes pointless, but this information helps the people at the College Board understand who takes their test and how other activities (such as taking AP classes) is associated with performance on the SAT, college enrollments, etc. This information could be helpful to the College Board when it reports who is taking the SAT and what their needs and plans are. Information like this could in turn be greatly helpful to you when you want to know about who applies to what school and what your own scores mean! And answering these questions during registration is far preferable to answering them on test day.
Then, I was registered to take the new SAT, almost two decades after the last time I took it.
**This post is part of a series called STUNT: SAT Taking to Understand the New Test.