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Standardized Tests

The standardized tests that loom on the horizon for years have become a reality for Juniors and Seniors at MCDS. These tests, the SAT and ACT, play an enormous role in the college admissions process and can make or break an acceptance. Historically, the SAT has been the most popular standardized test among high school students; however, the ACT has gained momentum and many colleges do not prefer one test over the other.
Other than grades, standardized tests are generally considered the most important factor in the college admissions process. “Some schools will try to down play the importance of scores, but the truth is that after transcripts, scores are the second most important factor for most schools,” said college counselor Ms. Sardina. Since classes taught in different schools differ in style and difficulty, colleges look for areas to compare students equally. Both the SAT and the ACT give colleges a means of comparing students, since all of their applicants take the same test. While many students simply rely on their inherent knowledge for these tests, others look elsewhere to try to reach that perfect 2400 or 36.

Tutors, classes, and review books are just a few of the many options students consider in preparing for standardized tests. “In theory being a good student should be preparation enough. Unfortunately, today that does not seem like enough. Any of those expensive tutors or prep classes should help, provided that the student is making an earnest effort to improve,” said Ms. Sardina. Taking a walk across the MCDS campus, one can always find a student in places such as the library or the picnic tables working vigorously in a review book. Students’ bookshelves are dominated by review books such as those of the Princeton Review, Barrons, the College Board, and many more. The majority of students preparing are absorbed in SAT books; however, many others are also preparing for the SAT in other ways. “I am preparing by taking practice tests, and I am preparing more for the ACT because it is a test more suited for myself,” said Junior, Jacob Shaked. Through hip SAT classes, and individual tutors, students prepare (and hope) to succeed on standardized tests.

While the SAT and ACT are said to be considered equally by colleges, each test is unique in its own way. First, the SAT is broken into shorter sections – testing students in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. On the other hand, the content of the ACT lies in English, Math, Science, and Writing. Furthermore, the SAT penalizes students for incorrect response, while the ACT does not entail a “guessing penalty.” The SAT and ACT are given equal leverage in the college admissions process, so students are encouraged to take both tests to maximize their chances of earning a good score.

As Juniors at MCDS begin taking the SAT and the ACT for the first time, succeeding on these tests tops the students’ priority lists. Preparing for these tests has squeezed its way into the tight schedules of students. Although standardized tests do not test students on the majority of the material they learn in school, they definitely consume a good deal of the school year.

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