The College Board announced Tuesday that as many as 7,800 answer sheets from the Oct. 13 SAT have not arrived in Princeton, N.J., where the tests are scored, potentially leaving early decision candidates at Yale and elsewhere with incomplete applications.
The postal service delay was caused by recent anthrax scares, which closed two New Jersey mail processing centers last month.
The College Board, which administers the SAT, will allow affected students either to collect a refund or retake the test.
Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Richard Shaw said his office could only consider scores for early decision applicants that arrive by the fourth week of November. The next test date is not until Dec. 1.
Shaw, who said he received an e-mail from the College Board about the situation Wednesday, said the admissions office would work with affected students on an individual basis, if necessary.
“We’ll have to see what the situation is and decide what alternatives they have,” Shaw said.
Shaw said the worst-case scenario is that the incomplete applications would be held for regular decision.
Shaw said the admissions office will know in about a week which applications are incomplete, at which point applicants will be contacted.
The College Board said all or some of the answer sheets have not arrived from 89 of the more than 3,600 test centers around the world, affecting less than 2 percent of the 550,000 students who took the test in October.
Shaw said his office would not evaluate applications without scores because it would be unfair to other candidates.
But Andrew Dulberg, an early decision applicant from Brookline, Mass., who did not take the test in October, said he would not feel slighted if a few applications were assessed without scores.
“I actually think it would be fair because I hope that in evaluating a student the admissions office digs a little deeper than just the SAT score,” he said.
Catharine Kaufman, an early decision applicant from Phillips Academy, said she would rather see applications evaluated without scores than forced into the regular decision pool. She has already received her scores from the October SAT.
“With what I know about the admissions office, it seems people who apply early have a certain edge because applying early is ensuring commitment,” Kaufman said.
Shaw emphasized that the delay would affect only a small number of Yale applicants, if any.
“Only 1.5 percent of the tests are missing,” Shaw said. “You can assume it’s a very small percentage of the whole group; 98.5 percent of our candidates should be fine.”
The College Board has scheduled several makeup tests in December at the affected test sites. While these exams come too late for early applicants, other affected students may take them for free. If the missing October SATs surface after students have taken makeup tests, students may choose to send the higher of the two scores to colleges.