How & Why to Take the SAT on Standby
The process works just like when someone is on standby for an airplane flight: you show up on the day of the test and hope that there will be an available seat that you can take.
Why You May Have to Take the SAT on Standby
High school students have a lot to keep track of when it comes to applying to college. It can be hard to stay on top of college visits, application deadlines, extracurricular activities, and AP and SAT tests all at once! I definitely felt like I was constantly scrambling to stay on top of everything in my junior and senior years of high school — I was feeling college student stress even before being admitted to college!
Luckily the SAT test organizers realize that not every student may make the SAT exam registration deadline and offers students an alternative: taking the SAT on standby. If you happen to get caught up in the flurry of college applications and miss the SAT test registration deadline, it may still be possible to take the SAT!
How to Sign Up for the SAT on Standby
To take the SAT on standby, you first have to get the SAT registration materials from your school (probably available at your guidance counselor’s office). Your school also can inform you of the test locations and dates. On the day when you hope to take the test, bring to the testing center your photo identification, completed registration materials and any other testing materials you might need.
On the SAT date, you also will need to bring the SAT test fee ($47 for the general test and $21 for a subject test) plus a standby fee of $41. Be sure to verify fees, as these may change. This next tip is of all-caps-worthy importance: GET THERE EARLY! Taking the SAT on standby is first-come, first-serve, so your odds of scoring a seat are way higher if you beat the crowd.
Cons of Taking the SAT on Standby
Having the option of taking the SAT on standby is definitely helpful and has saved many a student from missing college deadlines. However, taking the SAT on standby also has serious drawbacks.
For one thing, standby testing isn’t offered for those taking SAT II subject tests in languages with a listening component. Also, fee waivers can’t be used on standby tests. Accommodations for students with disabilities are also limited, providing only 50 percent extended time. Finally, standby testing is not available in certain countries (check with the College Board to find out where).
While it’s definitely good to be aware that this option is available, you should never ever depend on taking the SAT on standby — it’s always best to register on time so you have a guaranteed seat.