No college-bound student wants to hear the word “waitlist” from the school of her dreams. But the waitlist option can be a boon to anyone who misses the registration deadline or decides at the last minute to take a test.
The College Board neatly summarizes the risk and reward of waitlist status:
- Waitlisted students are admitted to the test center on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Waitlisted students are seated after all regularly registered test-takers have been admitted and if sufficient test materials, staff, and seating are available.
- If weather or some other unexpected condition closes your test center, your waitlist request will be canceled and you will be notified. You may be able to submit a new waitlist request for another center if there’s time.
So the most important fact to keep in mind is that students on the waitlist, or what ACT refers to as Standby Testing, are NOT guaranteed a seat. Our impression is that, at least in the Rochester area, students on the waitlist do get to take the test. However, the uncertainty of standby status can definitely impede performance.
Procrastination also has a price, either $53 (SAT) or $55 (ACT) as of 2019 in addition to all other test fees. The College Board clarifies that the waitlist registration fee is charged only if you are admitted to the test center on test day.
Furthermore, not every student can taker advantage of the waitlist. If you receive test accommodations beyond 50% Extended Time, are a first-time Sunday tester, or meet certain other criteria, you may not take advantage of the waitlist.
Obviously, registering for the test you want to take on time is very important. Even late registration is preferable to the waitlist. But if you missed those deadlines and still want to test, be sure to register for the waitlist at least 6 days before the test date, get your paperwork in order, and arrive to your test center early: Test centers admit standbys on a first-come, first-admitted basis and only if there are seats, test materials, and staff available after all registered students have been admitted for their test option. You are not guaranteed a seat or a test booklet..
Have you taken a test when you were on the waitlist? Be sure to share your story!