Q: After we spent a lot of money on test prep and our daughter spent a lot of time studying for the SAT, the College Board messed up the June 6 SAT! So all of our effort is for nothing. What is going to happen? What do you suggest we do?

A: By now, everyone is aware of the problem with the administration of the June 6 SAT: A printing error on test booklets forced the College Board to discard two of the 10 sections. It's bad luck all around, and the College Board will do what it will do to make amends, in this case waiving the fee for students who want to retake the exam. It's not the first time something has happened, and I'm sure it will not be the last.

About nine years ago, the College Board erred in its scoring of hundreds of tests, and students received scores that were anywhere from 100 points or more lower than they actually achieved. And I remember when my daughter was applying to colleges about a dozen years ago, and she needed several SAT Subject Test scores. She took three tests, but only two scores arrived. When we inquired, we learned that the College Board had somehow "lost" her literature essay. "And it's really too bad," said the apologetic College Board service representative, "because she scored well on the short answers!" She had to re-take—at no cost, of course—the entire exam. It's almost inevitable that there will be problems from time to time, especially when dealing with huge amounts of data on a national basis.

While this answer doesn't solve the June 6 problem, I can suggest an alternative. Why not take the ACT? And specifically, take the ACT with Writing. This does not mean the ACT is never going to have a problem. But the problems may be fewer. If you are thinking of applying to colleges that ask for the SAT and SAT Subject Test scores—requiring two days of testing—you should know that most of these same schools will accept the ACT with Writing instead. You can get all of your testing done at one sitting instead of two. You will pay one testing fee instead of two. Your task will be lighter!

In addition, if a significant part of the testing population moves to the ACT, the College Board, by losing market share, may be forced out of its complacency at having a quasi-monopoly on college testing.