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Why the SAT Is an Outdated and Overrated Method of College Qualification
The use of standardized testing such as the SAT and the ACT have been the source of college qualification used for generations by college admissions centers throughout the country. For many students high SAT and ACT scores are essential to their admission results regardless of their past GPA and extracurricular activities. For colleges, the SAT is viewed as a test that shows how prepared an individual is for college and is a way to see whether they will be successful in the future. Although the SAT gives college admissions centers an easier way to eliminate applicants from being accepted, there are many underrepresented students who may have the same success or more than students who only have a high SAT score. The dependence of outdated and overrated standardized testings are not an accurate representation of college qualification and should be abolished all together.
Standardized testings such as the SAT are singular tests that represent who you are as an academic student. A singular test such as the SAT should not be a reflection of a high school student’s college qualification. Anika Manzoor, the editor for Magoosh's company on SAT topics and a current MPP candidate at Harvard University, wrote an article about the pros and cons of the SAT. She states, “this study confirms that high school GPA is a better predictor of college success… students who have higher SAT scores but lower high school GPAs appear to fare worse than students who have lower SAT scores and higher GPA...”. Although GPA, according to Manzoor, is a better predictor of college success than the SAT, colleges still rely heavily on these standardized tests. In fact, according to the University of California’s online admissions page, UC’s “use a formula, called an admissions index, to determine if you're in the top 9% of California high school graduates. UC’s convert your SAT/ACT scores to a UC score, which [they] match to your UC GPA. If your UC score is equal to or greater than the score required for your GPA, then you're in the top 9%.” For the case of the UC schools, the SAT has just as much impact if not more than your GPA. If our community and colleges accept these students who slack and achieve poor grades throughout high school, only to be saved by a high SAT score then we are essentially promoting negligence as a positive trait. The SAT clearly does not prove how successful a student will be which is why colleges should focus strictly on academic achievement and extracurriculars.
Another issue with standardized testing is that it excludes certain groups based off of their financial situation. Dr. Michele Hernandez, an assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth College, explains in her article that she has seen a vast amount of applicants over the years. She explains, “Students from affluent areas spend $15,000 and up on SAT prep and top SAT tutors in New York command $500-$1000 an hour…”. This puts students who do not have the capability to spend this much money on tutors and prep books at a massive disadvantage. Even if these students have prestigious grades and have been at the top of their class throughout their entire tenure in high school, they will be put at a disadvantage when college admissions look at their SAT. These standardized tests are not helping but actually hurting young student’s futures and crushing the hearts of many hardworking students who did not receive a high SAT score and failed to get into their favorite university.
The convenience of the SAT for colleges is a crucial element to why these standardized tests have been around for so many years. For many colleges the SAT is an easy way to cut down their admissions list to a select group of students. Although it is fine for colleges to make their decisions for who they want to admit into their university, they should make sure that these standardized tests are accurate and equal before making their selections. In an article by Adam Clark, a renowned journalist covering K-12 and higher education in the state of New Jersey, explains how the College Board's SATs are not as accurate as people perceive them to be. According to College Board, every SAT test is taken into a process called “equating” which adjusts an individual's score to how the rest of test takers did. As a result of this a 17 year old from Denville who “answered about 20 more questions correctly on the SAT [than his previous SAT]... [had] his score drop by 30 points.”. This complicated and uncertain process that the College board uses makes some students question the authenticity of these standardized testings. This is yet another wavering question and complication of how the SAT is used and judged which is why it is best to focus on the academic merit and activities a student has done throughout their high school tenure.
Although standardized testing has been used for generations throughout high schools all across America, it is evident that there are many flaws on both how colleges perceive SAT scores and how the SAT score is graded. The SAT may be an easier way to eliminate applicants for college admissions centers, but it is certainly not the most accurate. If we continue to reward lethargic and dispassionate students who do good on one test then eventually everyone will have the same mentality. Which is why we need to abolish this overrated and outdated measurement of college qualification.
Clark, Adam. “The SAT Was Easy. Now Kids Are Mad? Here's What Has Them Steaming.” Nj, Nj, 13 July 2018.
Hernandez, Dr. Michele. “Save Our Teenagers: Ditch the SAT Reasoning Test.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost, 29 May 2013.
Manzoor, Anika. “Meet Anika!” Magoosh High School Blog, Magoosh, 11 Mar. 2016.
Manzoor, Anika. “Pros and Cons of the SAT.” Magoosh High School Blog, Magoosh, 19 Mar. 2019.
“University of California - Admissions.” University of California - Admissions.