Are SATs worth taking?

Are SATs worth taking?

Jacob Moquin, Opinion Editor

The last SAT testing date for the 2022-23 school year is just around the corner, and it begs the question: Is the SAT even worth taking in the first place? 

Well, that depends on who you ask; however, it is undeniable that colleges do not prioritize or value the SATs today as much as they used to. This has been a present trend for some time, but has since only surged with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. This notably put a hinder on standardized testing, forcing many universities nationwide to take off the SATs as a requirement for admittance, and most have not looked back.  

The latest among these schools is the University of California which joins a list of more than 1,230 higher education institutions, including all the Ivy Leagues, to have made the switch to be “Test Optional” over the past decade. Among these colleges, some are even starting to go beyond just being “Test Optional” and “Test Blind” instead, urging their applicants to in fact not send their scores as they will not be accepted or taken into consideration.  

The debate over the use of SATs remains hotly contested, with many saying that the test advantages the wealthy and has never reflected intelligence or college preparedness. On the other hand, some argue that the SAT is fair and is an excellent way of determining college preparedness. The SAT may seem more controversial than ever, yet this is not true, and to get a scope of the SAT, we must look back to when the use of the test first began. 

… people worry too much when they don’t need to.

— Junior Ben Silveira

The Controversial History of the SAT

The father of SAT, Carl C. Brigham, a man who has caused much stress and suffering to anxious teenagers, officially created the “Scholastic Aptitude Test” in 1923 through the College Board after finishing up a previous project with Harvard professor Robert Yerkes. During WWI, Brigham and Yerkes created an IQ test to administer to army recruits and determine their intelligence. 

However, this intelligence test was flawed, not accounting for recruits being immigrants or their education level, Brigham determined that people of English descent were smartest, and those of Italian, Polish, and Black descent were the least, and warned that racial mixing was dangerous for the nation. 

Another major flaw many have with the test, as mentioned before, is that it “favors the affluent.”

Proven by the College Board’s own data, students from families with more income are shown to score higher. Additionally, as the College Board has promoted the idea that SAT is determinate of college preparedness to higher education institutions, has led to a significant advantage for people with the resources to afford private schooling and tutoring. 

It is also worth mentioning that the College Board has a monopoly for itself when it comes to the education system and each individual SAT test costs a whopping 60 dollars, which can easily be financially straining to many lower-income families.

However, despite all of this, there are still many professionals within the education system that still argue that the SAT is indeed a generally good indicator of preparedness and that there is no economic bias when it comes to the test.

Personal Experience With The SAT

If you did not know, Free SAT tutoring has been offered by Mr. Pires and Mr. Rea after school for both the Math and Reading sections since late April; however, seemingly nobody seems to care to go to any of them. 

Speaking from personal experience, I have gone to a few of them, and half the time, I was the only one there, while the other half of the time, there was only one other person with me. I find this mind-boggling; how could free study sessions for a stressful test have only two people go to them? 

I know my parents have pressured me to study as much as possible for this test and signed me up to take it in May and June. I know that I’m not the only one with pressure from my parents to perform well on this test, but does this mean the opinion surrounding the test has changed? 

Opinions Around LHS

Mrs. Connelly, LHS guidance counselor, has extensive background knowledge of the test and knows who is generally a prime candidate for it. 

When asked whether or not the test is right for everyone, she stated that it is a “personal decision” as not everyone is a good test taker but that the test should remain available for those wanting to take it. Mrs. Connelly also stands behind the opinion that the SAT is “absolutely” worth taking, as she says it can still showcase your skills and allow you to qualify for many colleges. Even if most colleges may not require it anymore, she says it still holds significance, especially for those wanting to get into Nursing or PA programs.  

In order to get the point of view of students, I turned to my fellow junior classmate, Ben Silveira, who also happened to take the May SAT just as I did. He does agree with Mrs. Connelly that taking the SAT is worth it, but that it depends on how strong of a test taker you are. However, Silveira feels that its importance is overblown and that “people worry too much when they don’t need to.” 

Silveira believes that his AP exams have helped him prepare and were much harder than the SAT. Silveira also added that he is applying to Westfield State, which does not require a score, but still encourages it.

The views from Silveira and Mrs. Connelly are contrary to how Senior, Madelyn Ogorzalek, feels about the SAT. As she says that the SAT is not useful for applying to Colleges anymore and does not reflect college preparedness. Ogorzalek also added that the SATs were not nearly as important as she initially thought, as there was not a single college she applied to required the SAT. Ogorzalek, now reflecting on her decision to take the test twice, says “I don’t think I would’ve taken them,” as she feels they were too costly for how much she actually utilized the scores from them. 

Now, Are They Worth It? 

It seems as though the answer to my question is not as black or white as I originally had anticipated, as it truly depends on your career path and what colleges you have in mind. I ultimately think it is best to look it up and truly consider it before you give the College Board a $60 payment that may not even be worth it for you. The answer also relies on your test-taking abilities, as the test is difficult to navigate and strategize through, and it may not reflect your GPA or preparedness for college. 

I know it did not do that for me, as I nearly have a 4.1 GPA and have managed to ace two AP classes throughout the entire course of the year, yet I only managed to get a score of 1050. Regardless of what you may decide on, I think it is best not to take the test too seriously as it will not determine the outcome of the rest of your life as much as it may seem that way.