Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Should the Sat Be Required?

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First introduced in the year 1926, for many years now – the SAT, or Scholastic Assessment Test, has been a major part of our high schooler’s education. It is a requirement in order to graduate – and is a chief determining factor in whether or not a student will be accepted into certain colleges. In fact, a student could have straight D’s and C’s, yet if they were to receive a perfect or near perfect score on this particular test – they would be able to apply and be accepted into the most prestigious of schools. I think this is absolutely ludicrous.

The SAT test is one tailored to be one of the trickiest you’ve ever taken, one that is actually designed to fool you into misunderstanding every question. Not to mention the stress that overcomes most students as they’re taking this timed test, second guessing every answer and worrying about every little thing until finally the time is up – and they feel like a failure. It’s silly to put a student in this atmosphere – where most are not at their best – test them on random subjects, and then allow this score to come before every other score they’ve ever received in their life.

Indeed a quote from Einstein comes to mind as I think about it, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. The SAT has been under scrutiny for years now, often accused of being biased in the upper class’ favor. In fact, studies have shown that students from families with an income less than $20,000 a year received an average score of 1,310, while students from families with incomes over $200,000 averaged in at about 1,715 – a difference of 405 points.

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There was also a large controversy over the ‘oarsman-regatta analogy question’. The purpose of the question poised was “to find the pair of terms that have the relationship most similar to the relationship between "runner" and "marathon". The correct answer was "oarsman" and "regatta". The choice of the correct answer presupposed students' familiarity with crew, a sport popular with the wealthy, and so upon their knowledge of its structure and terminology.

Fifty-three percent of white students correctly answered the question, while only 22% of black students also scored correctly. However, according to Murray and Herrnstein, the black-white gap is smaller in culture-loaded questions like this one than in questions that appear to be culturally neutral. Analogy questions have since been replaced by short reading passages”. In response to the controversy, a growing number of colleges have chosen to join the ‘SAT optional movement’, a movement made popular in the late 1980s.

Said colleges do not require the SAT for admission. In a 2001 speech to the American Council on Education, Richard C. Atkinson, the president of the University of California, urged dropping the SAT Reasoning Test as a college admissions requirement, "Anyone involved in education should be concerned about how overemphasis on the SAT is distorting educational priorities and practices, how the test is perceived by many as unfair, and how it can have a devastating impact on the self-esteem and aspirations of young students.

There is widespread agreement that overemphasis on the SAT harms American education". I very much agree with his argument, and many are starting to see his point as well. I am very hopeful that in the growing infamy of the test, it will vanish as a requirement all together, and that the next generation will never have to deal with the problems such a test presents.

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