SAT: Sad Angry Teenager

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K. Laughton

Junior Rachael Purcell stresses over the upcoming SAT in May.

Kate Laughton, Staff Writer

Junior year is already a bundle of stress with rigorous AP classes, extracurricular activities, after school sports and thinking about which college is “the one for you.” On top of this, students must take the SAT, a three hour and 45 minute standardized test for college admissions that consists of three sections- writing, critical reading and math. For students who are aspiring to attend an elite college, the SAT can take on a life of its own and feel like a measurement of self worth. Why must students feel as if their future depends on a test that doesn’t even examine what they have learned in school?

Many students are not happy with their SAT score, even after taking the test numerous times. Destructive letters are addressed to students’ houses saying they have been rejected from the school of their dreams not because of their GPA, but because of their low SAT score.

A California study of 2007 shows that the SAT was the poorest predictor of college performance when compared with high school grades and performance on subject tests. This should not be an indicator of whether a student should be admitted or denied.

“The College Board SAT” handbook says that “Quick prep courses can’t replace years of solid schoolwork. If you take rigorous, challenging courses in high school, you’ll be ready for the test.”  A profile of Miramonte students would show that this is simply not true; many people with good grades do not do well on SATs while others without good grades or a rigorous course load do just fine.  Furthermore, quick test prep courses cannot replace years of college preparatory school work. It is frustrating that the nature of the SAT questions is so different that it requires separate preparation.

Highly ranked colleges such as Wake Forest, Middlebury and Pitzer do not require SAT scores in their application if the student has met a grade-point average or class rank criteria. Wake Forest University found that dropping the SAT requirement increased their student body diversity.

The SAT is also in favor of the wealthy, being coined as a “wealth test.” Families with more money spend massive amounts of money paying for SAT tutors, where underprivileged families cannot afford to do so. This results in the wealthy students with the SAT tutors scoring better than the underprivileged students.

The SAT brings on a great level of stress and which negatively affects students. Just 100 points could stop student from applying to their “dream” school and accept their “safety school.” A national demonstration study from Heart Math proves that girls are twice as likely to suffer from test-taking anxiety, and the SAT reveals that gender gap. According to the College Board, boys continue to receive higher overall scores.

Students may also find themselves in an uncomfortable environment when taking the SAT. Performance on the SAT can depend on the environment in the testing room, the personality of the proctor and the climate of the test-administering school. If these factors do not meet the students expectations, a lower score than expected is inevitable.

Instead of requiring SATs, there are some options currently being tested that should be expanded to all schools. The first option is not requiring SATs at all and putting more emphasis on grades, which are a long term history of performance, and interviews, giving a realistic perspective of the candidate. The second option is to allow students to use AP tests and subject tests instead of using their SAT scores.

The SAT acts as an obstacle to opportunity. No person’s potential should be reduced to a number.