Mark Keppel High School

SAT: The test of emotions

All students know it the moment they step into high school. It hangs over them dauntingly and even scares some away. They will take the SAT, and it will affect everything.

The second SAT of the year will be distributed on Saturday, March 11. Once more, students will be flocking about, trying to prepare. Teachers and parents will advise their nervous test takers to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast. While these tips may help a student physically, it fails to aid their emotional health.

Gabrielino High School junior Sarah Tang, who took the SAT in October 2016, noted her discomfort from the test.

“I have to try to get the best score possible, and [I] don’t know what [my] best is ever, so [I] just keep thinking about it since it affects what college [I] get into.” Tang said, then went on explaining how she felt panicked the whole time she was taking the test.

It doesn’t just end there. In an article by MacLean Fitzgerald of Brain Connections, Scott Paris, a psychology professor from the University of Michigan, said that “standardized tests provoke considerable anxiety among students that seems to increase with their age and experience.”

In other words, the anxiety caused by a single test can haunt a student for the rest of their lives. Tang said that her SAT score is always in the back of her mind, and Mark Keppel High School senior Binh Dang, who took the SAT in October and November of 2016, said that the stress from the SAT was “not worth it.”

In the article, Paris also mentioned that the amount of preparation can also add to the problem. Although students take the SAT during their junior and senior years, many begin prepping during their sophomore or even freshmen year. Preparation is time-consuming, and there are concepts that students may not understand, therefore making it harder.

Popular preparation methods include spending hundreds on practice books, taking several practice tests, and attending SAT prep classes like those offered at Elite Educational Institute.

Elite’s associate director, Sunmin Lee, acknowledged the SAT as a “necessary evil” and that it adds a lot of pressure, workload, and stress on students. However, Lee suggested for students to ease up, saying, “Know that [the SAT] is one small factor of the admission process. There is more to [students] than just one score from a test taken on a Saturday afternoon.”