The SAT Name Game

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Mastering the SAT takes ingenuity and a little luck is necessary. Elizabeth Frederick’s son John found this to be the case, even in getting the correct name on her son’s test.

So often in life, it is the little things that totally screw us.  Take, for example, John’s SAT registration process. 

Like good parents, we had John register himself for the SAT (after all, he’s heading off to college soon – one says – so he should be able to take care of these simple tasks).  He did it, even if only in the nick of time (literally one hour before the end of the last day). Cue forward to our surprise in early January when we learn that he registered with his nickname, not his legal name. For the CollegeBoard, that’s a problem. Students are required to present photo ID on the test date so CollegeBoard can confirm that the registrant standing at the check in table is, in fact, the registrant who signed up to take the test.

No problem.  CollegeBoard has a process to fix that. You just need to submit a “Name Change Request” with accompanying documentation – 2 accepted forms of photo ID, showing full legal name. But, they really do need you to fax the request sooner than the day before the test, which is when John reminded me he hadn’t submitted it yet. 

“Mom, did you do the thing?” he asked. 

“What thing, John?”

“You know, the SAT thing I told you about a few weeks ago.  You know, the name change?” 

It takes 5-7 business days to process the name change request, they told us. No exceptions. After some ungenerous thoughts in both directions about whose job it really had been to take care of the name change sooner, we agreed it wasn’t the end of the world.  He’d just take the SAT in March.  Not that big a deal, he just wouldn’t get the questions and answers back, which CollegeBoard only does for the January testing.

Then, the stroke of luck – we got a little snow on January 24. That meant the test was cancelled, and rescheduled for 2 weeks later!  Huzzah!  We were back in business!  I faxed the request to CollegeBoard that Monday, confident in my math that we would have those 5-7 days for the name change process before the new test date.

Unfortunately, however, the “roster” of registrants, including our nicknamed son, had already been generated before the original test date, and couldn’t/wouldn’t be re-generated.  We learned this from Kayla, the Customer Care Specialist at CollegeBoard, who left a message for John on his cell phone. He was to call her back between 8am and 4pm (when he is in school, without a phone) to discuss the details. So, John called her at his lunch break, only to learn that they have a process for “special circumstances” where you can have your high school prepare a “student ID form” on their own letter head, with a statement from them about your name and true identity (which in this case, will be his nickname that he registered for the test with), and a notarized signature from an official at the high school.

The test is on Saturday.  He will have to get the notarized signatures at school before then, show up at 7:30am on Saturday with his No.2 pencils, and hope for the best.  I wonder how CollegeBoard will sort it all out. Now that the Name Change Request has been processed, they have proof of his full legal name. But he will take the SAT using his nickname? I suspect the test itself will not be half as stressful for John as this production has been.

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