SAT test now optional for US university admissions; Indian test-prep institutes feel the heat

For students, especially from non-native English speaking nations, the SAT is used to test the ability to read and comprehend university-level programmes

May 27, 2020 / 06:55 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

The University of California in the United States has decided to phase out the SAT test as a requirement for admission into its educational institutes. It is likely that other US educational institutes will follow suit in making the test optional. This has added to the woes of test-preparation institutes in India.

The SAT tests students on areas like writing, reading and mathematics. For students, especially from non-native English speaking nations, the SAT was used to test the ability to read and comprehend university-level programmes.

Considering the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak where a nationwide lockdown had been announced since March 25, holding of pen-paper tests like SAT has been tough. This led to the SAT being made optional even as there were reports of this test being taken online.

“SAT coaching was widely preferred by Indian students. Now that it is suddenly being made optional and also phased out by US institutes, this will impact the revenue,” said A Giridhar, a professor at a Delhi-based coaching institute for SAT and other international admissions tests.

The test preparing market in India is estimated to be Rs 45,000 crore. Offline coaching institutes constitute almost 55-60 percent of the market while the rest constitutes online players.

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The fee for a classroom training module for SAT in India could range between Rs 15,000-20,000. Live classes online for 80-100 hours duration could cost Rs 40,000 while private tutoring would cost as high as Rs 60,000.

Institutes told Moneycontrol on conditions of anonymity that student registrations were falling on the one hand, while on the other a few were seeking refunds. More than 100 coaching institutions offer SAT lessons online and offline.

“The summer months are when SAT test-takers come to coaching institutes to prepare for it. The COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of students to take pen-paper tests has led to this decision. But we did not expect it to be phased-out without adequate prior notice from institutes," said the director of a pan-India online learning platform offering this test-prep module.

Students who are yet to enrol to SAT coaching programme or have only taken one to two lessons are seeking refunds from the test-prep providers. However, it is unlikely that any refund of the fee paid will be given and the amount could be used to avail of other courses.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
M Saraswathy
first published: May 27, 2020 06:55 pm

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