Victims of a thriving paradox, college applicants are often caught in a pointless web of irony, known commonly as the SAT. During the application process, students are told by parents, advisors, teachers, counsellors, and practically any and every authority figure to do everything in their power to make themselves stand out amongst their peers. Yet, at the same time, students are required to take the same standardized test in order to ensure their admittance into most universities. Ironic, right? Explain this one, College Board.
“It was one thing when high school students used to not study or tutor and take the SAT once, accept their score, and submit it to colleges. But now, this standardized test has become a test of finances and resources. It is completely unfair and it has lost its true purpose,” said senior Rachel Mair.
In addition to the counterproductive, contradictory, and inequitable nature of the standardized testing method, the SAT is an inept way of testing students’ intelligence. The SAT requires a particular way of thinking– one that has no relevance to everyday human existence. Because of the black or white nature of the test, students who have a more analytical mindset will generally struggle with SAT questions. But, that is not to say that these students are not intelligent. They are simply open-minded thinkers; they do not possess the one-track mind-set that is required for success on standardized tests.
Many standardized testing professionals, however, would disagree.
“Let me start by correcting a misconception. The SAT is not an intelligence test, and that goes for the ACT, too. They’re not intelligence tests. They are tools that a college admissions office uses in order to give them a fuller picture of the student, a more complete picture of the student,” said English teacher Mikael Romano, who has been a Compass Education Group Tutor for 10 years.
Although Romano makes a valid point in that those who do well on standardized tests will stand out to college admission officers, this method is inverted. Why have all students conform, only to see which ones will stand out? There are more personalized elements to a student’s profile. Why not look solely at a student’s GPA and their personal statements? This will allow not only work ethic, but also years of schooling to portray the academic quality of a student. Despite that, according to Romano, a student’s GPA and application essay is weighted heavier in the admissions process, standardized tests still have an immense influence on admittance.
According to the College Board’s official website, the SAT provides “a path to opportunities, financial support, and scholarships, in a way that’s fair to all students.” However, this could not be further from the truth.
A Wall Street Journal study proved students from more affluent families perform better on the SAT. These students have the economical means to get the best tutors and take the best prep classes money can buy. But, the rest of college applicants from middle and lower economic backgrounds are left on their own. Therefore, in no probable way is the SAT laid out on an equal playing field.
“All the test has become is a game for students to attempt to beat. Those who are more financially inclined are able to get the upper hand. This totally defeats the initial purpose of the test which was to give everyone an equal opportunity,” Mair said.
In recognition of this uneven playing field, Romano proposes a valid solution: “The public school system should offer free subsidized SAT prep to all students whether it be in a classroom situation or a one on one situation.”
Another way for students to avoid this system of standardized testing is for students to apply to test-optional colleges. With the list of test-optional universities skyrocketing, the nature of the SAT is being recognized and taken into consideration more each year. With the list ranging from universities like Brandeis University and Lewis and Clark College to the recently converted George Washington University, students are being provided with alternative avenues to college admittance.