SAT not a valid source for student knowledge

It’s a rite of passage for many college bound juniors: taking the four-hour long Scholastic Assessment Test, known simply as the S.A.T. Taking the S.A.T. has become a sort of tradition in the process of applying for colleges, especially since  colleges view the S.A.T. as a prerequisite. This is why it’s so shocking that so many high schools do absolutely nothing to help prepare their juniors for such an important exam. Schools either need to put more emphasis on making sure students are ready for the exam, or the S.A.T. should not be considered a valid source to assess knowledge.

The S.A.T. has been around for over 86 years, starting with its inception by Carl C. Brigham in 1926. Originally, the S.A.T. was classified as an aptitude test, which means that the test was supposed to measure an innate talent. Now, the S.A.T. tests students on knowledge that we supposedly have learned through schooling. It can be argued that the modern day S.A.T. is still an aptitude test because many students are never taught the material that is featured on the exam.

The S.A.T. itself is nothing short of pure torture. Slogging through a four hour test is bad enough, but the fact that the test is extremely difficult doesn’t add to the experience. The S.A.T. requires students to demonstrate their knowledge about reading, writing, and mathematics, things that students supposedly learn during their schooling years. The subjects should be easy enough to master, except it seems like the College Board makes it their mission to cram the S.A.T. with such difficult and complex questions that there is no way all of it could have been covered in school. The exam is packed with obscure words, like avuncular (of or relating to an uncle) and halcyon (a period of time in the past that was happy and peaceful), ones that only students who manage to read the dictionary each night would know and math problems that are barely touched on in either Geometry or Advanced Algebra. After taking the S.A.T., it’s easy to realize how unprepared one can feel.

The S.A.T. has often been called into question about how valid the test is for the many race groups who take the exam. College Board claims that the S.A.T. is “the most rigorously researched and designed test in the world.” This might be the case, but it doesn’t mean the test is fair for everyone. According to a USA Today report on S.A.T. scores from various race groups, more often than not, most minorities don’t do as well on the S.A.T. as many white teens do. This is likely due to the advantages that many white teens have over other minorities, such as better schooling and high schools that have higher funding.

The report also mentioned that the national average score for the S.A.T. was 1509, a score that some minorities fail to meet. White students often scored better than the national average with a mean test score of 1580 while African Americans averaged far below 1509, with the mean score being 1277. Another discrepancy with the S.A.T. is that students who live in a household with an income of $200,000 or more annually averaged 1721, which is over 200 points higher than the national average.

Since the S.A.T. is a prerequisite for most colleges, it would make sense that they would want to see who the best of the best are. But quizzing students on three subjects in the format of 170 questions, including a 25 minute essay, doesn’t seem to be the right away to go about it. The Advanced Placement testing, for instance, is a much better format. During AP classes, students spend almost an entire school year devoted to learning the information in preparation for the year end AP exam. This format is a better way to truly test a student’s intelligence as opposed to the S.A.T., which is never formally taught in schools. This would mean either changing the S.A.T. itself, removing it altogether or rearranging high school English classes to better prepare for the S.A.T..

The Scholastic Assessment Test should not be such an important key for entrance into college. The S.A.T. hardly showcases the talent and potential that most students have due to how difficult the exam is. The S.A.T. either needs to change into a more suitable format, like the AP exam, or schools should try to put more focus on truly preparing their students to take such an important test. As it is, the S.A.T. should in no way be a valid test of how students will perform in college.