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Tomorrow marks the first time since the 1970s that the SAT will be offered in the summer. We're going to take a look at what the earlier date could mean for the hundreds of thousands of students who'll be taking the college entrance exam and which students this is actually helping. Elissa Nadworny from the NPR Ed team has our story.
ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: When I asked students about how they're getting ready for tomorrow's SAT, nearly everyone mentioned breakfast.
ANNA DELAHUNT: Oatmeal is delicious. And it kind of feels like the food you should be eating before a big test.
FABRICE CHARLES: Me, I like to get egg and sausage before I take a test.
NADWORNY: Both Anna Delahunt from Tennessee and Fabrice Charles from Boston said having a full stomach is key. Blossom Pianwi from Washington, D.C., recommends getting a good night's sleep.
BLOSSOM PIANWI: Eight hours. Don't be up on social media and things. And relax, don't overthink it.
NADWORNY: No one was especially excited about sitting for the test on a summer Saturday, but Anna Delahunt is relieved to have an option to take it early.
DELAHUNT: During the school year, especially when you have lots of AP and honors classes, it can be really hard to manage the workload.
JENNIFER ERTEL: For our kids it just opened up a world of access that just wasn't even there before.
NADWORNY: Jennifer Ertel helps run the college readiness department at Houston's public school system.
ERTEL: The counselors across the nation have been begging SAT to do one earlier because October's just too late.
NADWORNY: The August test comes a full six weeks before the October test, which is traditionally the first time in the school year that students can take the SAT. The earlier date lets seniors get the scores before college applications are due. It also helps students who are applying early. Fabrice Charles, the 17-year-old in Boston, took the SAT last spring. But he'll be trying to get a better score tomorrow to qualify for more college money.
CHARLES: If I can get 1260 point on the SAT...
NADWORNY: He says he'll qualify for a full-ride scholarship at BU.
CHARLES: Boston University.
NADWORNY: His test tomorrow will be free. He's among the nearly 25 percent of students that use a fee waiver from the College Board. But waivers are distributed by school counselors, so they can be harder to get during the summer in those crucial weeks before the registration deadline.
LORI CHAJET: I think ultimately it's mostly going to help middle- and upper-class students.
NADWORNY: That's Lori Chajet, who co-directs the nonprofit College Access: Research and Action. She says it's a smart marketing move.
CHAJET: The College Board is going to collect more money. I think that many families will be interested in getting an edge for their child.
NADWORNY: The August test date puts the SAT few weeks ahead of its competitor, the ACT. That test is in early September.
CHAJET: This seems like, what's the harm? It's one extra test date. But I think what is going to happen is it is going to create more inequity.
NADWORNY: Chajet points to research that shows academic loss over the summer months, especially in low-income communities. Sure, there might be time for an SAT prep class, but that can be expensive. Some cost thousands of dollars. There are some free study options online. Khan Academy offers study tools and practice tests. Fabrice Charles used it to study this summer.
CHARLES: I didn't practice, like, every day. But I practiced, like, often, like, almost every day.
NADWORNY: He has Internet at home, but the Pew Research Center says nearly 5 million families with school-age children don't. Elissa Nadworny, NPR News, Washington.
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