Has the time finally come to ban the SAT? College-bound students say ‘yes!’

By: Jaysalee Salcedo

NEW YORK—For upperclassmen in high schools all across the United States, the spring term brings a familiar sense of dread centered around just three letters: SAT.

The Scholastic Assessment Test is a standardized exam that is used for admission by a majority of colleges. It is a mandatory right of passage all around the world — but is it really even necessary? Not according to most of the students, former students, and parents I spoke to about the test.

Arlene Niles, a rising senior at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, loves math and is captain of the Varsity Volleyball team. She also believes that the SAT should be banned. “Every question felt like a disappointment,” she told me.

Niles took the new version of the SAT in May 2016 and said that, although some questions were not that complex, there were questions on topics with which she was unfamiliar. Not knowing the material on the test that would determine her future college enrollment was the main reason for her feeling of disappointment, she said.

The new SAT, which was released March of 2016, has a lot of changes. In response to complaints from students, parents, teachers, and the community, the College Board—the nonprofit organization behind the test—released a new version of the exam. The new version is shorter and considered to be easier to understand.

One major change was that the scoring is completely different. Originally the score was out of 1600. In the new test, that changed to 2400. Now, after yet another change, it is back to 1600.

Another change to the scoring is the way the points are distributed. In the old version you were encouraged to omit questions you were unsure of, but now it is strongly advised to fill everything in.

The essay portion of the test also changed. Before, the essay was mandatory; now it is optional. The first SAT, way back in 1900, consisted of just an essay, which makes this a huge change in the test’s history.

After speaking to a few students that took the test many positive and negative opinions arose; but a majority of them agreed that some parts of the test were more feasible. That said, a majority of high school students and even some adults who participated in my poll claimed that even with the changes, the SAT should either be banned or made into a less important factor in the college application process.

Students of all different educational backgrounds were supposed to benefit from the SAT when it was first administered. Anisha Chadha, a teaching assistant at New York University said in a recent article that “Standardized testing was meant, in theory, to compare students in a just way.”

Unfortunately the SAT became, to many people, a burden.

The test gave an advantage to students with access to better schools and extensive test prep, which can cost a lot of money: Statistics show that students who come from low income families tend to do poorly compared to students who don’t.

A poll in 2013 found that students who come from a $0–20,000 income family had the lowest SAT scores. Students who came from a $200,00+ income home received higher scores compared to the lowest income students—as well as those in the middle.

Or as Anisha Chadha explains in her article: “ Standardized tests do not put students on a level playing field.”

In 2014, the SAT began receiving criticism on how it was not an “accurate indicator of academic performance.” Mrs. Regina Bratichak, an English teacher at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, deals with adolescents who are getting ready to take the test and stays in contact with them afterwards. She believes that the SAT is a fair test for all student because all students taking it are around the same age and are presented with the same questions.

Arlene Niles, the junior at Bishop Loughlin, disagrees. She said that not all students are taught the same information. Joselyn Aviles, a mother of three who has taken the SAT in her adolescent years and is now helping her 11th grade daughter with the process, believes that the SAT should not be banned, but takes issue with the idea that the SAT gives every test taker an equal opportunity.

She believes that some students simply don’t test well, especially under pressure. Aviles feels that it should not be a main factor in the application process but added that she believes “anyone can go and buy a practice book and prepare for the test.”

Eliminating the SAT as a whole would undoubtedly cause a huge controversial debate in the educational world. And while both sides — pros and cons — can be strongly argued, a compromise might be to lessen the importance of the test.

This is already what some colleges are doing. Schools like Hampshire College say that they are “thinking outside the box” when it comes to the admission process.

Hampshire college no longer requires SAT scores. An increasing number of over 800 U.S colleges and universities do not require SAT scores for admission as well.

So what would be the harm in eliminating them all together? An article from the Stanford Daily explains that a survey from the American Psychological Association found that 1 in 3 students reported feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and frustrated by the test, which can affect how they perform.

Many students from Bishop Loughlin agree with Arlene Niles that one bad test day can spell doom: “I’f i’m having a bad day, I’m not getting into college,” she said.

The amount of importance that an SAT score has on a college application is so great that messing up the test can have a negative impact on a young person’s future. This amount of pressure on a young adult should be prevented. The college application process, school, extracurriculars, and personal affairs can be overwhelming enough. Although entering the adult world does bring many challenges and stress, the SAT does not need to be one of them!

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