Montgomery County to provide free SAT in school April 9


Kyle Chrichton

All Montgomery County juniors will be able to take the SAT—without the essay portion—for free during school Tuesday.

By Danny Donoso and Blake Layman

This Tuesday, all Montgomery County juniors will be able to take the SAT—without the essay portion—for free during school. Students who would rather take the ACT can instead receive a free voucher. This is the first year the county has offered this opportunity.

“It ensures that all students are college and career ready upon high school graduation and removes barriers associated with college entrance exams,” District Program Director Scott Murphy said.

MCPS began devoting resources to ensure students could take standardized tests regardless of finances in 2017, when the county allocated $450,000 to give a voucher to every high school junior to take either the SAT, ACT or career certification assessment before graduating. This program has already shown signs of success; between 2017 and 2018, SAT  participation in Montgomery County increased by 12.7 percent, and the average score rose 41 points.

The county is continuing to shift toward giving more free tests based on based on the use of financial assistance programs already implemented in schools, Board Member Pat O’Neil said.

“We have a large number of students on free and reduced meals so it is beneficial to make [the tests] available to more students for free,” O’Neill said. “We had great success in increasing the number of students taking both the SAT and the ACT and our scores on the SAT went up.”

Funding is currently in place to provide the SAT and ACT again next year, and the program is expected to continue in the following years.

Students appreciate the new program.

“The fact that they offer it for free and in school makes it much more accessible for everybody,” junior Justin Niles said. “The SAT isn’t offered that often, so it’s nice that they gave us another time to take it.”