By Cresonia Hsieh
DELRAY BEACH, Florida, U.S.A. – Upon entering the barren classroom, anxiety runs high as students’ sharpened No. 2 pencils and calculators quiver and shake. For the test is merciless, unrelenting, and unfortunately, is a major determinate in their future.
After a lifetime of schooling and months of subject-specific preparation, the day has finally arrived for the ultimate test of fate.
On this particular day, hundreds of thousands of students from all over America and three other continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa, will compete against one another for the test of their lives: the SAT.
Globally renowned, the SAT is used for the purpose of measuring the academic potential of high school students for college achievement and plays a significant role in college admissions.
According to the College Board, since the birth of the assessment in 1926, millions of students have taken these tests and have been accepted into college partly based on their score. But since then, some have questioned the legitimacy of the SAT due to unfair advantages given to wealthier and more privileged students. They argue that use of the test could prohibit the acceptance of some unprivileged but equally capable applicants.
It is because of this that some would like to see the abolishment of the SAT.
Although the SAT is an international test and has been used for years to aid in leveling the playing field for students, there is a significant difference in scores between the rich and the poor. While it is uncertain if the average 405 point difference is due to better schooling or inherited intelligence, there is no doubt that wealthier children have an advantage that the poor do not: the money for test preparation.
After Kaplan opened its doors in 1945 to the rich college-bound students, juniors and seniors everywhere have relied heavily on outside resources such as preparation books, classes, and even expensive one-on-one private tutoring.
Meanwhile, disadvantaged teens must solely rely on what they gathered from their years of schooling, without tutors, classes, and perhaps without even test preparation books. The College Board itself has even begun to offer study guides and online courses despite their claim that the SAT is deemed uncoachable.
While it is true that the SAT allows for the weeding out of potential students among thousands of applications, it is also important to note that the lingering existence of the SAT is partially credited to college rankings displayed by U.S News and World Report and Newsweek rankings.
These rankings use “student selectivity” – how tough it is for a student to be admitted – for 15 percent of their methodology. Hence, in order to advance in ranking, colleges may use the SAT scores to weed out students, despite its inaccuracy and bias against accepting other possible applicants who did not have the opportunity to afford the test preparation.
This can result in less ethnic diversity in colleges and a disregard for the potential of students who are merely poor test takers or financially disadvantaged.
Because of this, there is a movement among colleges and universities to eradicate the SAT from their applications. As of last year, 850 colleges and universities had already done so, including Bowdoin College, Wake Forest University, New York University, Middlebury College, American University, Bates College, Bryn Mawr College, and many more.
Subsequently, these colleges and universities have reported an improvement in the ethnic diversity of their student body.
As it stands now, the existence of the SAT may currently be threatening the future of many students because it offers an unfair advantage to wealthier test takers.
By extracting the SAT, ethnic diversity on college campuses would increase, and the school would have a better chance to view potential students as they truly are.
Additionally, colleges and universities may be wise to select students for merits other than test scores rather than just trying to advance in rankings. English teachers who instruct only to the test urge students to produce long, wordy missives rather than quality essays.
With the removal of the SAT, there may be a brighter future for economically disadvantaged students and minorities, and for education itself.