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Abolishing the SAT

Originally published on November 9th, 2021 by Margaret Sharp-Milgrom, staff reporter

Seniors applying to colleges have to go through the painstaking process of the Common App, recommendation letters, endless essay writing and of course, the beloved SAT. Then they get the joy of waiting in anticipation to get their future determining scores. Not only do we all have to go through that, but then we have to pay in order for colleges to even see those scores (so that we can pay upwards of 60,000 a year to attend). Aside from the financial burden, every step of the process also has an emotional cost. Senior Luisa Bloch Garcia gives a simple homage to the SAT.  

“It’s probably the worst day of school,” she said. If the past year or two have shown us anything, it is the declining need for SAT scores, however many seniors applying to college still feel that they are super important. 

Another senior, Joe Fewel agrees. “SAT scores have a large influence over where you can even apply…they can also set you apart from other candidates,” he said. There’s nothing seniors can really do outside of using the organization that runs this whole show (from SATs to AP tests to ACTs), the College Board. The “College board definitely has a lot of control over every aspect of applications,” said Bloch, “almost like a monopoly.”

 Because of how much pressure is put on the SAT, some high schoolers get tutoring to help boost their scores but often it is only rich and white families that can afford it. They are treating the SATs like their only way into schools, and a lot of students feel like if they do not do well on the SATs they just cannot go to a good school. “It feels like they offer no way for students to study for it,” Fewel said. Because of the way the test is designed it makes it a lot harder to be successful and to be a competitive applicant and without a good method to study we cannot get the scores we want. If students cannot afford tutoring, it is much more difficult to get into the schools. And even if people are getting tutors, “it really depends on your schooling pre high school,” said Fewel.”Some people don’t get the knowledge from school that you need for the SAT.” That lack of strong educational basics can be detrimental to students. Additionally, If their home environment, school, or neighborhood do not fully support the goals (success is attributed with) laid out by the college board, their chances of getting a competitive score decrease substantially. Getting a good score is more of a privilege from outside factors like wealth and race than an actual demonstration of skill. A majority of the content on the SAT, covers middle school curriculum, which may have been sparse depending on where students attended or what teachers they had. Kids from certain schools and backgrounds have much higher chances of doing well while the system is stacked against others.When they get a bad score, students feel like there’s nothing else that can be done. “I feel like my future is hanging on getting this score back,” said Bloch-Garcia. This score feels like it has the power to completely change the path of students’ lives. “Higher education is encouraged by society in general,” said Fewel. Yet students can only get into top schools if “you are in good schooling from elementary school.”It would make sense if the College Board used these scores as a learning checkpoint, but instead kids’ futures are decided based on these scores. “Taking this test as a benchmark would be so much better,” said Bloch Garcia. 

This is why, post-covid, there has been a considerably easy transition away from using the SAT in college admissions. Since covid forced colleges to admit many students as test-blind, there has been much less of an emphasis on scores in the current admission process.  The question is–will this last, and for how long?

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Abolishing the SAT