SAT: A Valid Factor in College Admissions?

Posted by æolia
2011. 9. 21. 05:12 EDITORIAL/사회 :: Current Issues

It is with great puzzlement that I regard the common practice of using the SAT as a valid criteria for college admissions. Colleges all across the country require SAT scores to be sent with every application with the idea that the scores might be indicative of the student's future performance in postsecondary eduction. Students sit for hours in classes to learn how to take the test, stress over it for months, agonize while the results are being processed, and hinge their emotional satisfaction and perceived self-worth on the scores. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you can't say it isn't true entirely.

I personally think the SAT is useless. It doesn't measure anything, except perhaps the student's ability to test well, and is certainly not a good measure of how well the student will be able to cope and succeed in college. I don't understand why colleges still use it and why students every year still stress over it. In all honesty, it is not a difficult exam at all. It consists of simple reading passages and questions and rudimentary math that a middle school student should be able to do. The material is hardly representative of an eleventh or twelfth grade high school curriculum and the material tested might be laughable in other countries, although perhaps not so for the English portions. I am of the opinion that that SAT reflects this country's low educational standards and failure to properly address them. If I may say so myself, it is an easy test. No one truly wracks their brain taking the SAT. There are no terribly convoluted logic questions or extremely difficult math problems requiring extraordinary powers of critical thinking. It's a joke, and the fact that it's one of the biggest factors for college acceptance is ridiculous. 

My own experiences with the exam are accounted henceforth, and are by no means intended to be bragging; I attempt to be as objective as possible. I first took the exam in October of my junior year of high school, after a summer class in the math portion. Not quite satisfied with my grade, I took it again in January, and received an extremely high score. How much did I study for this? All I did in the math class was get accustomed to the types of questions asked. I didn't really want to be there wasting my summer away so I didn't work very hard. After that, I didn't touch an SAT book. I was never really worried about it. I knew my English and math skills were up to par and it was only the luck of the curve whenever I took it that would determine how badly I would get docked for each incorrect answer. After that, I was content. I knew my score would make it easy for me to get my foot in the door wherever I applied, although I was by no means under the illusion that it meant an automatic acceptance anywhere. If that were the case, the college admissions process would be even more questionable. 

I believe that a much more difficult and comprehensive exam should be given to prospective college students. That seems easy for me to say now that I don't have to take it and I admit, I might have done much more poorly on that exam and not been able to get accepted to the college I'm in now. I believe, however, that for our future's sake, we need to have a better system of distinguishing the able and qualified from those who are not. Now, perhaps the ACT, another exam used in college admissions, does a better job than the SAT at being a more comprehensive measure of a student's ability but I wouldn't know, as I have never studied for it nor taken it. I might be writing this for no reason at all, if the ACT is a perfectly good measure of a student's knowledge and skill. However, I understand that it is still similar to the SAT, with the exception of an additional section, the science section, and so cannot be sure of the likelihood of that. 

Of course, I know that I have no credentials as of yet to speak of and I have no authority on exam writing or the college admissions process but as one who has been through the system, these are the thoughts that have constantly recurred to me while having to prepare for the SAT and watching my peers prepare for it. My sister, who is four years younger than me, has now started preparing for the exam, and while I believe that the hours she spends studying could be spent doing other things, I know that for now, taking the exam is still a crucial part of the college admissions process. Even though I think it's all rather ridiculous and a waste of time and money worrying about an exam that doesn't even test for what it's supposed to, the only thing high school students can do right now is to get through the system if they want to change it later.
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