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Discontinuing the SAT

Updated: Nov 27, 2018

By: Gabriela Calvo

PTS Falconer Contributor

November 4, 2015


Fellow students. I would like to address something that is constantly lingering in the back of our minds. The SAT. We are all guilty of studying for hours on end in the hopes of proving our worth in order to get into our dream schools. But I have news. The College Board is lying to you. For the past 80 years, the College Board has been lying to generation after generation of high school students.  It has, in the past, claimed to measure innate intelligence, academic aptitude, and academic achievement, and now your probable freshman year GPA. In reality, the SAT only measures a set of arbitrary skills that will become absolutely useless after Junior year of high school. These include the ability to solve simple formulaic riddles in the areas of grammar, reading comprehension, algebra, and geometry under psychologically straining time limits.

In short, SAT scores measure only a student's ability to take the SAT. This test rewards students with the highest stamina and condemns those who prefer to reflect on their response before submitting an answer. The essay portion of this exam in particular punishes creativity and encourages unimaginative and untalented responses.

A study was performed soon after the release of the current version of the SAT in 2005. It assessed the writings of several valued literary figures according to the rubric of the test. Shakespeare received a two out of six. Hemingway fared a little better, having earned a 3 out of six. Gertrude Stein, however, was deemed worthy of only a 1. By contrast, serial murderer Ted Kaczynski, more widely known as the unabomber, earned a perfect score. He was praised for his mastery of simple, complex, and compound sentences.

There is something seriously wrong with how we judge teenagers today. The College Board does not expect skill, and by lowering its standards, it represses it. The result is scores that, no matter high or low, do not reflect the talent of the test taker. The corporation itself has slowly been acquiring a measure of self-awareness over the decades. Originally, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, then the Scholastic Assessment Test, SAT Reasoning Test, and now simply the SAT. These name changes reflect a loss of confidence in the exam and its value in the college admissions process, although it continues to dictate whether a student deserves a place in top, nationally ranked schools.

Perhaps the most important argument against this exam is that it is the most effective tool for preventing diversity on college campuses. It’s classist, and it’s racist. Students from affluent families can purchase higher scores through SAT prep classes, while students from less fortunate families may walk into the test room with no preparation at all. Hispanic and African American students do significantly worse than their white American counterparts with the same annual income as they. This is because minority students must shoulder the added pressure of being expected to defy stereotypes, which in turn worsens their performance. In fact, the founder of this exam, Carl Brigham, used tests similar to it to conclude that the Nordic race was intellectually superior to the eastern European and Mediterranean Races in his book A Study of American Intelligence, published in 1923.

Therefore, I believe that we should scrap the SAT in favor of SAT subject tests and AP tests. These tests more accurately capture what the student has learned in school and what they are truly passionate about, as well as narrowing the gap between upper and lower class students. Many universities have already made this switch, and have found no decline in the quality of their freshmen classes. So let’s alleviate at least a portion of students’ stress by discontinuing this harmful and unfortunate exam.