The SAT is not a fair test

Courtesy of NBC News

Courtesy of NBC News

Hallie Hoffman, Staff Writer

“Begin.” Your hand frantically grips the pencil as you read the first problem and hastily scribble the answer. It feels like it has been an hour already. Your mind is working too slowly and the clock is ticking too quickly. Questions that you knew by heart now slip away from memory, and you stare at the bubble sheet in a panic. Pretty soon, your hand goes numb with worry. Even if you knew this answer, your hand refuses to write anymore. But this is it:your future rests on the outcome of this one test.

Most colleges use the SAT as a measure of students’ academic ability during the admission process. The test’s bias, inaccuracy, and limited perspective are all ignored, and instead, students are reduced to a single number.Factors crucial to a more accurate perception of the student – learning style, effort, educational and financial opportunities, and other achievements – are forgotten. 18 years of preparing for college and the world beyond ultimately depend on an anxiety-filled, four-hour test.

The SAT measures a student’s ability to “learn to the test,” a skill that undermines the actual process and meaning behind the knowledge. This test is extremely biased against anyone who learns differently. From a socioeconomic view, underprivileged students who do not have the money or access to preparatory books and courses are at an inherent disadvantage. Additionally, the high-pressure environment during the test can cause even the best students to panic and do poorly.

The test itself is filled with questions designed to trick students, and they often require students to ignore their own logic and creativity and, instead, think in the test’s often extremely illogical way. By judging students’ abilities primarily on a test such as the SAT, colleges ignore what makes students unique. While standardized tests have their place, it is inaccurate and unnecessary to use them as a deciding factor for college admission.

“I think there should be more of a focus on the human aspect of college applications, because you’re accepting a human, you’re not accepting an exceptional test taker,” said senior Devika Kumar. “You’re accepting a human being who will hopefully connect with other human beings on the campus. [It is important for colleges to] see the honest, genuine character of a human being, not just your number,” added Kumar.

Some colleges are now becoming “test-optional,” giving students the option to submit SAT scores but not requiring them. While many students with low scores appreciate this, a number of students choose to withhold their score for the personal reason that they want to be looked at as a person, not a test. Studies by Forbes as well as CNN showed that going test- optional has increased diversity in colleges.

Colleges that mainly use SAT scores to assess students are missing the whole picture. “While this test has some ability to predict student performance in the first year of college, it falls far short of predicting overall academic or career success and a host of other aptitudes that educators and society value, such as intellectual curiosity, motivation, persistence, leadership, creativity, civic engagement and social conscience,” explained Joanne Creighton, president of Mount Holyoke College.

Viewed from more nuanced and broader perspectives, students can be appreciated for who they are other than as test scores, and colleges will benefit from a diversification of strengths among the student body. It is important for more colleges to adopt this policy in order to more fairly and accurately judge students as individuals with unique interests, skills, interests, and accomplishments.

 

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