Is the SAT Relevant Anymore?
Karla Brunello, Career Counsellor at H-FARM International School
More and more universities have changed their approach to standardised test scores by adopting test-optional policies. Harvard, for example, has extended its test-optional policy until 2026, allowing students to apply for admission without requiring SAT test results. The question then arises — why should students still take the SAT? The reality is that the number of applications have boomed since the new test-optional policies and admission rates have dropped, making the admission process even more competitive than before.
WHAT IS THE SAT
The SAT is a standardised test widely used for college admissions in the United States and increasingly used as an entrance test for a growing number of world class European universities. Among these are some of the most highly ranked business schools in the world such as Bocconi University, IE, ESADE and ESCP.
The test is scored on a 1600 scale and measures the knowledge and skills that students are learning in high school and that matter most for college and career readiness. Therefore having the right testing strategy is a key part of the application process that requires time, effort and preparation in advance.
WHY TAKE THE SAT
Getting ready to take the SAT can be particularly challenging, however it can be taken unlimited times and adds value to your university application as it is still considered a key metric when applying to highly ranked universities. It also plays a vital role not only in your holistic admissions process but also in terms of scholarship opportunities.
The majority of universities, especially the more prestigious schools, do still require and strongly consider SAT scores. Many universities, including test optional schools, will use SAT scores to award merit scholarships. Therefore if you do well on the test, your scores could benefit your financial aid greatly!
Taking standardised tests like the SAT shows that you’re “university ready.” They are a way to compare students across high schools to better identify successful candidates. Choosing to take the SAT means you go above and beyond the requirements, an attractive quality in a prospective student.
Another positive consideration comes from the College Board’s recent announcement about the SAT switching to a digital format starting from 2023, thus becoming more student-friendly. The increased accessibility of the test is highly welcomed, especially considering all the difficulties that many students had to face to take the test during the pandemic. The digital test will bring an immediate cost saving and students will get results within a few days rather than several weeks.
TIPS ON HOW TO SCORE WELL ON THE SAT
It is a good idea to plan to take the SAT test in advance. At many highly selective universities worldwide, there is a clear correlation between students who submit good test scores and those who receive university offers. And while there are other lots of important factors in your application, a good test score provides an extra data point that can significantly strengthen your application and keep your university options open.
The test can be repeated many times. Retaking the SAT can lead to higher scores and you can usually send to the university just the best score you have achieved. We highly advise at least 2 sittings, and ideally 6–8 months of preparation before the first sitting. You should start preparing in MYP5, to do your first SAT in early DP1, so that you can repeat it a couple of times before DP2 starts, if you need to. Avoid May DP1, so that you do not interfere with DP1 grades, and the busy autumn of DP2.
Create a strategic SAT study schedule based on your strengths and weaknesses, and ensure you study consistently. Remember that the skills of applied discipline and personal growth that you develop preparing for it will be extremely useful to you throughout your academic and professional careers.
Karla is the Careers Counsellor for H-Farm International School Treviso. Born in Melbourne, Australia and raised in both Italy and Australia, she earned a Master’s Degree in Law at the University of Bologna, a Graduate Diploma in Law at Monash University and a Master in Gender Studies at Ca’ Foscari University. Karla is passionate about career development and helping students make informed career decisions and evaluate educational paths, interests, skills, and abilities.