Some students in Maryland who recently took the ACT college admissions test are finding out that they may have to retake the exam after 88 answer sheets were lost in the mail after being sent through the US Postal Service.
"It's a very unfortunate situation," Ed Colby, a spokesman for the Iowa-based testing organization, told The Washington Post. "The package that contained them, sent via first-class U.S. mail through the U.S. Postal Service, was damaged during shipping, and when it arrived here, 88 answer sheets were missing.
"The package included a note from USPS acknowledging that the package had been damaged, and apologizing. We continue to work with the U.S. Postal Service in trying to find the missing materials, and we are hopeful that they can be located."
Colby said that the ACT will refund the registration fee to all Maryland students who were affected by the mix-up, and will register them for free for a retake of the exam on October 24. Students will be able to switch the date of the exam if they need to for free.
According to Colby, it is standard procedure for exams to be returned to ACT using Federal Express. He added that although USPS was used by mistake in this case, "this happens occasionally and usually is not a problem."
The news left students and parents upset at the thought of test-takers having to sit for the exam again, wondering whether or not their child will still be able to meet college application deadlines, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.
"I'm livid," Lisa Hawkins, a mother, told the Post. "These tests are just too important. There needs to be a safeguard in place so this doesn't happen."
Hawkins' son was subject to printing issues in a test booklet when he took the SAT in June. As a result, several sections of the test were thrown out, writes Liz Klimas for The Blaze.
This is not the first time that a mix-up has occurred with college entrance exams. In 263 SAT answer sheets went missing at Broad Run High School in Loudoun County, Virginia. Eventually, a white box containing the sheets was found in the school's shipping area.
Around 1.92 million students took the ACT exam in 2015, while 1.7 million took the SAT, which included students from overseas.
The ACT was first given in 1959 as a competitor to the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test. In 2011, the ACT was administered to over 1.6 million students, passing the SAT in popularity for the first time since its inception.
The test consists of four sections: English, Reading, Mathematics and Science Reasoning. As of Spring 2015, the test is also offered in a computer-based format that includes optional constructed response questions.