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Student gives thoughts on SAT as factor in college acceptance

In 1926, a test from the pits of Hell was introduced. It lives in high school students’ nightmares, and can humble even the most academically successful people. The SAT.

Despite the negative connotation around the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), there are attributes of the test that make it nearly flawless. From the incredibly in-depth reviewing process that scrutinizes every imaginable aspect of the 154 questions on the test, to the objectivity and comparability of scores, the SAT is arguably the best standardized test that has ever been created.

Because of this, the SAT should be required for college admission.

College admissions offices have utilized the SAT for decades. However, many colleges are challenging this long-standing precedent. With school dynamics shifting, some people believe that the SAT is not a good representation of individual academic abilities. Some colleges are answering criticism with policies such as “test-optional” and “test blind.” What these colleges have effectively done is overlook all of the benefits that come with requiring the SAT for admission.

Standardized tests are advantageous when evaluating a students’ academic abilities. The SAT is objective because all of the tests feature similar questions, similar test-taking environments, and are graded by a machine. In addition, the SAT has a multi-step process for creating test questions. For example, there are test development committees that are composed of experienced educators that decide which topics should be tested. The next phase consists of reviewing questions for their fairness. A committee of high school and college professors examine every question to ensure that it falls within a certain criterion, according to College Board. In fact, at least 12 professional test developers review each question, resulting in a test that’s fair to ALL students.

Despite the SAT’s objectivity, people argue that the SAT is unnecessary for the academic evaluation of students. They argue that high school grade point averages (GPAs) are sufficient for the analysis of college applications, Aaron Churchill wrote in an article for the Fordham Institute. While high GPAs are a good indicator of academic success, it’s hard to determine if grades have been subject to inflation as a result of lenient teacher grading. As a result, it’s almost impossible to compare students from across America.

A viable solution to this predicament is the SAT, a test that allows college admissions to compare applicants free of bias because the test is objective.

Others think college admissions will use the SAT as the main indication as to whether or not to accept students. Instead, college admissions takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications.

They look at grades, test scores, extracurricular activities and application essays. Because of this, the score that students get on the SAT does not make/break their chances of getting into college. A prime example of this is a student who scored 1570 on their SAT, was ranked 3/1000 in their high school and took 12 AP classes. Despite all of these near-perfect accolades, the student was denied admission from Emory University, Jeffrey Selingo wrote in an article for The Atlantic.

A counter to why SATs should be required for college admission is that there are test prep and financial inequities. To counteract this problem, there are programs such as Khan Academy’s free personalized SAT prep. However, families with money have the financial resources to send their children to professional SAT tutors that can improve their test scores.

On the flip side, students who are not wealthy cannot afford tutors for the SAT. There will always still be insecurities in test-taking because there are most likely better tutors out there than Sal from Khan Academy. While this truth is not ideal, it is not a reason to trash the SAT.

A successful test that the SAT can be compared to is the New York State Regents Examinations. To prepare, I devoted six hours every weekend during the months of May and June to study for the Regents Exams. Eventually, I started to see patterns in the questions being asked.

What I mean by this is that students can expect certain test questions (repeat questions) on every Regents Exam. Naturally, I capitalized on this and did more practice exams until I was almost getting 100% on my practice tests. The reason why I was able to prepare in this fashion for the Regents Exams is because they are standardized.

Since the SAT is a standardized test as well, it allows both students who are naturally smart and students who are academically motivated to score well.

The SAT should be required for college admission. It is a standardized test that pulls questions straight from what high school students are learning in classrooms.

Even though test equity is a problem, there are solutions out there that help level the playing field. In addition, the SAT allows naturally smart and academically motivated students to score well. While the SAT may hold a negative connotation in many people’s hearts, it doesn’t mean that it should be outright banned from colleges.

Photo Courtesy Springfield College

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