Not Exactly in the Numbers

by Emily

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Each September, high school juniors worldwide frantically begin the process of college preparation. Naturally, we have been taught that the first instinct in this process is taking the SAT. Being in the same boat as most juniors, I remember talking to a family member about the test, and they reassured me that it was “the test that determines the rest of your life.”

Each year, about two and a half million students will spend collectively two and a half billion dollars on SAT preparation. What these two and a half million students do not know when they sit down that one Saturday morning to begin the three hour long exam is that they have spent their money on an outdated test that favors the wealthy, and plays a microscopic role in their future.

When Wake Forest University announced that it had become “SAT/ACT Optional,” it sparked tremendous controversy. Previously, the SAT had been one of the major factors in college admissions. Large universities have had difficulty admitting thousands of applicants and relied on SAT scores to quickly respond to applications.

But how “fair,” really, is the SAT? It has been proven that the amount of money spent preparing for the SAT directly correlates to your score. Essentially, the SAT is testing you on how well you know the tricks and schemes of the SAT questions. These are tricks and schemes that are taught through pricey courses and textbooks that can range to over $2,000 a course.

Since the SAT does not test your knowledge of content, but rather how well you know how to take standardized tests, families that cannot afford to study the dynamic of these tests will be at an extreme disadvantage. So as a whole, this filters out applicants that simply cannot afford SAT preparation, discriminating against many minority groups and lower class citizens. It is no coincidence that a study in the early 1990’s proved that 14% of lower class citizens had strong GPA’s but low standardized test scores due to their low income. Because of this, the SAT is simply discriminatory.

Rather than letting one single test determining what college wants you or not, many colleges are looking at the all around stats of a student. Factors like grade point average, course selection, and after school activities are what really illustrate a profile of a student. Rather than what happens one Saturday morning on a 2400 point scale of carefully crafted questions, colleges can look at who this person is, and accept them on the things that count.

Of course, students may still send their standardized test scores if they’d like, but is it really worth it? As of autumn 2012, more than 815 colleges and universities have taken to the test-optional policy. Countless others are in the process of doing away with standardized test scores, as well.

As the college process becomes more selective each year, colleges want to see holistically who they are going to admit into the class community. Many colleges actually prefer that students focus on creating rigorous and challenging schedules and maintaining strong GPA’s than taking the SAT countless times. College interviews have become a good alternative because it allows admission officers to get to know the applicant, rather than reading a number.

It is these tiny altercations that will one day eliminate discrimination from the college application process. Eventually, high school juniors will not have to succumb to slaving over SAT prep and spending tremendous amounts of money. Eventually, all colleges will see the futility of the SAT and do away with standardized tests.

Hardworking high school students, no matter what their family’s income is, should be judged on their all around performance and attitude in high school. What happens one Saturday morning should not determine the future of a young student. One’s life accomplishments, academic growth, and future goals cannot be measured in a single number.

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