The dangers of the SATs

Why are colleges determining the rest of our life based off a couple of hours?


U.S. Navy

Photo courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons

Gyu Ri Kim, Author

In the College-Board dominated era of today’s education, students spend months, as well as hundreds of dollars, to study for the one test that determines the rest of their lives- the Scholastic Aptitude Test, also known as the SAT. SAT prep programs can cost as much as or more than $800 a week, and private tutors can cost even more. “It’s really a waste of money, but you have to do it for your future,” says junior Katarina Ayala, who is preparing to take the SAT this March. “And it just influences the way how colleges look at you; you become a 4-digit number to them.”

There are many flaws and risks to weighing one’s future on the measly three to four hours they have to take the exam. A student may be having personal problems at home that are preoccupying their mind, or they may have an illness distracting them from the test. However, these scores are permanent, and some schools may require students to send all of them no matter the circumstances. Because of this, College Board has implemented the Score Choice program, which means a student can choose which test score they would like to send. However, they have also stated, “Colleges cannot opt out of or reject Score Choice. However, some colleges require students to submit all SAT scores.” In this case, Score Choice becomes void.

Another risk of the S.A.T. is for people who may be smart but do not have the best test-taking abilities. As former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama once said, “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.” Some might not do well under the pressure of limited time, and others may think more abstractly than some of the answers presented. A danger of this is the standardization of the abstract judgement of literature. Different analyses of books should be up for interpretation by different readers, but College Board forces students to try and think the “College Board” way and not their own. Because of this, the S.A.T. does not measure one’s intelligence, but rather their tactics in conforming their mind to set curriculum.

Today, colleges heavily depend on the S.A.T. to determine what students are deserving of an acceptance to their schools. However, the S.A.T. itself is deeply flawed in that they do not accurately measure one’s potential, and can be affected by simple matters such as a stomachache or a lack of sleep that day. No one sums up this flawed system better than British international advisor Ken Robinson, who says, “Now the problem with standardized tests is that it’s based on the mistake that we can simply scale up the education of children like you would scale up making carburetors. And we cannot, because human beings are very different from motorcars, and they have feelings about what they do and motivations in doing it, or not.”