Saying Goodbye to the SAT
With college application deadlines just around the corner, many seniors at Duxbury High School snuck in one last SAT, with high hopes of bumping up their score this past Saturday.
Natalie T, a senior at DHS had been studying for weeks with an SAT tutor and online resources like Khan Academy. Natalie’s preparation style is pretty typical for a DHS student: a tutor, practice tests once a week, and SAT homework on top of regular school work.
SAT tutors are known to bring students’ scores up significantly because they offer plenty of tips and tricks, and a designated time for a student to sit down and do practice problems.
“At first I wasn’t sure if a tutor was worth it, but having one definitely helps me stay on a consistent schedule,” said Natalie.
Although many students rely on formal tutoring to maintain a regular study schedule, not all students use them. Jack M, a classmate of Natalie’s has been studying by himself, using practice tests on the College Board website to prepare.
Two to three times a week, Jack would spend a few hours studying online. He was able to dedicate the time on his own to learn the best way to master taking the SAT. “I think that half of the test is just learning how to take it. That’s why students with tutors have a big advantage over kids who can’t afford them. You don’t need them, but they definitely help,” said Jack.
According to Education Week, roughly 2.1 million students take the SAT each year, making it the most popular college standardized test, yet it is not the only one. Some students prefer the ACT, a standardized test that is structured slightly differently than the SAT and includes a science section.
Emma D, another senior at DHS has taken both the SAT and ACT, but prefers the latter.
“I prefer the ACT because I did better on it. The ACT has a science section which is good for me because I’m hoping to major in biology,” said Emma.
Not all agree, which makes having a choice in which you wish to take and send to schools is extremely beneficial. Natalie for example preferred the SAT because she said it “has more resources available for studying.”
Whether it may be the SAT or ACT, standardized tests in general have become a controversial part of applying to college. 3/3 DHS students argue that standardized tests are an inaccurate representation of how smart or well fit for college a student is. “I feel like it doesn’t show who the student is enough. Many students have really good grades but they don’t test well,” said Natalie.
Emma agrees. “Scores can fluctuate. If you’re sick on the test date you might get a lower score. Each time you take the test it’s different, so it’s not a good representation of how smart a student is,” said Emma. Instead of requiring standardized test scores, Emma thinks that a student’s grades in high school should play a greater effect. “I think that a GPA, the essay and a transcript tell more about a student than a standardized test,” said Emma.
Jack also added that the SAT “doesn’t show a student’s work ethic, it just shows their overall ability to memorize and read quickly.”
Each section of the SAT and ACT are timed, which can be disadvantageous for students who struggle to focus, or need a little extra time to work through a problem completely. “Life isn’t something where you’re constantly on the clock,” said Jack. “I feel like we deserve to have the time to work through a problem.”
Instead of standardized testing, Jack suggests colleges require students to submit a research project on a topic of their choosing. “It is more realistic and a better representation of what college is all about. Learning rather than test taking,” said Jack.
As of right now, many schools are starting to catch on, and they are becoming test optional. This allows students to decide whether or not they want a school to consider their test scores with their application. “I’m very supportive of test optional colleges because standardized tests don’t show the whole student,” said Natalie.
That being said, standardized tests are still a major part of the application process, but after this Saturday, many DHS seniors can walk into this week with the weight of the SATs behind them.