By Feenzu Sherpa

Every year, thousands of Nepali students prepare for English proficiency tests such as IELTS, PTE, TOEFL, and SAT with plans to study overseas. However, such tests had been halted since last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAT examination, which was halted due to increasing daily COVID-19 cases in Nepal, is being conducted now in compliance with necessary health precautions. An SAT test was scheduled on October 2, 2021 at several test centers.

However, out of around 240 students who chose Trinity College in Putalisadak, Kathmandu as their test center, more than 30 students couldn’t participate in the examination after they were sent home by the college citing insufficient question papers.

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) examination is one of the globally accepted assessment tests regulated by the College Board, US for students planning to pursue abroad studies, especially in the US and Canada. The test also plays a significant role in securing scholarships.

Anubhav (name changed), one of the students who was not allowed to take the test, said that there was no prior information or notice about seat limits or any other obstruction.

“We were asked to enter the college premises before 8:00 am and I reached there at 7:45 am. Students were standing in a queue and everyone thought it was a regular process for checking admit cards. However, we were told that there are insufficient question papers and we won’t be able to participate in the test,” said Anubhav.

Meanwhile, the Director of Trinity College Ajit Lama said that a makeup test would soon be conducted for those who couldn’t sit for the exams on Saturday.

“We are just a test center and we have done our work as per the request of the College Board. We have already sent the list of students to the Board, and a makeup test will be conducted within two weeks,” said Lama.

A representative for Trinity College, who did not want to be named, said, “The College could have photocopied the question papers, but that would have been considered unacceptable by the College Board.”

When asked about the reason for fewer question papers than the number of test candidates, he said “It may be due to a glitch on the Board’s data of students or the Board may have made an incorrect estimation of students’ absence.”

“Though they say that a makeup test will be conducted soon, we can’t trust them. Our SAT test was earlier scheduled for May, but due to COVID-related restrictions, it was finally rescheduled for October 2. Students applying for the January session are worried about their future,” said Anubhav.

He wondered, “As a regulator, the US-based College Board must have known the number of students participating in each test center. I’m amazed how they could commit such a mistake of sending fewer question papers than the number of participating students.”

The College Board, the regulator of SAT tests, didn’t reply to a mail regarding queries on the matter by the time this report was drafted.

According to the data from the Ministry of Education, 58,758 students had applied for No Objection Certificate (NOC) to study abroad in the fiscal year 2017-18 and the number increased to 63,259 in the fiscal year 2018-19.

However, in the fiscal year 2019-20, the number of applicants for NOC declined by almost half reaching 34,094. Similarly, preparation and conduction of English language proficiency tests have also slowed down.