- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

Some Montgomery County area high school students almost missed their best opportunity to attend some of the country’s elite colleges when a mix-up delayed the posting of their SAT scores.

The students, who were among those taking the test Nov. 6 at Montgomery Blair High School, intended to submit their scores and other application requirements to colleges as part of the early admissions or early action process, instead of competing against more students later during the general admission program.

The results were expected within a few weeks but were not posted until Thursday, which created some anxiety for Anne Morse, whose son, Trevor, was trying to meet Harvard University’s deadline of Dec. 15.

“I grew concerned when weeks went by and [his] scores were not posted on the College Board Web site,” said Mrs. Morse, whose son attends the Washington Christian Academy. “Hopefully, this will be in time for Trevor and others to be considered for early action.”

As the deadline approached, Mrs. Morse began a frantic effort to learn what happened to the scores and to keep her son in the Harvard mix. She said Harvard officials told her they needed the scores as soon as possible or her son’s application would be placed in the “general admissions” pile.

“This test is absolutely critical for college admissions,” Mrs. Morse said.

She said officials for the College Board first told her none of the students who took the test at Blair had received their scores.

Then Brian O’Reilly, executive director of SAT Information Services for College Board, explained that the answer sheets should have been sent in priority mail envelopes to the company’s New York City office, but were instead sent with the test booklets by the slower, less expensive book-rate mail.

He also said the boxes of booklets were not received and opened until Nov. 24, but that letters with SAT test results would be sent “within a couple days” to the colleges.

Mrs. Morse said Blair students would have received their scores on Nov. 19 had officials followed procedures.

Brian Edwards, a spokesman for the Montgomery County public schools, said the school system would not be responsible for such a mistake because the entire testing process is handled by the Educational Testing Services company, which hires teachers to serve as proctors.

“On that day they were working for ETS,” Mr. Edwards said.

Mr. O’Reilly said the mail mix-up was not unique.

“There is always going to be a delay someplace,” he said.

About 400,000 students worldwide took the SAT on Nov. 6.

The stakes are high, according to the recent book “The Early Admissions Game: Joining the Elite.”

The book notes that a survey of 3,000 of the county’s top high school students found 81 percent of them who enrolled at an Ivy League school, Stanford University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had applied early.

The book also states that applying early can “sometimes double, even triple the chances of being admitted to a prestigious college.”

A Harvard admissions officer said Friday that last year 21,000 students applied for 1,650 undergraduate openings.

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