by Zach Esser
The tension is rising. SAT test days are rapidly approaching and for some, have already passed. If you don’t already know, the SAT is THE test for college. Sure, there are other tests like the ACT but they pale in comparison to the almighty test. It seems as if students have just accepted the fact that one of these huge standardized tests will decide the fate of their very near future. It really isn’t set in stone as much as most believe. Everyday there is more debate on whether or not one test should decide the college a student will go to, especially one as “tricky” as the SAT.
Standardized tests have always been a tricky subject when pertaining to college. High schools around the country are all generally supposed to learn the same thing but each college is wildly different. How can one test grade all of the unique and individual skills that a student could have. The truth is, it can’t. This means that a student can be denied from a college just because they bombed a test that doesn’t even test all of their skills. These tests can be praised just as much as they can be ridiculed however. Designing a test that can generally fit the parameters of almost every single college in America is an amazing feat. Keeping a test such as that alive for as long as it has is just as great.
This puts a ton of pressure on the producers of the SAT. They have to keep their test updated and within the standards of colleges at the same time. This is an incredibly hard thing to do, inevitably, some bad questions slip through the cracks and make it that much harder for the test takers. Also, students might not even learn some of the material necessary for taking the test. The SAT tests what you need to know for college, not what you have learned in high school. The writing section tests vocabulary that college professors don’t even know. At the same time, there are questions that an elementary schooler can answer, it’s absurd.
The questions on the SAT have been accused of a lot more than just varying difficulties. Particularly on the math section, there are many questions that some students can’t seem to get their head around. The difficulty is not due to the subject material of the question but to the way the questions are worded. For example: there are three times as many freshmen as juniors. Would you write it like 3F: J or F: 3J? According to collegeboard.org, 76 percent of test takers will wrongly pick the first answer rather than the second. Is this the school’s fault for failing to properly teach or the SAT’s fault for making particularly tricky questions? That is the 2400 dollar question. Fortunately, there are many tutoring programs that, for a hefty price, can help you prepare for the SAT.
Good news for anyone that might be frightened by the shadow of the approaching SAT, its being changed in spring of 2016. After taking a comprehensive survey of students and teachers, the producers of the SAT are changing their test and mostly for the better. The essay portion is becoming optional and the vocab section is getting easier. Also, points will no longer be subtracted for wrong answers. The math section is getting harder and the test is switching back to the 1600 point scale, but overall, it seems like the test is becoming more student friendly. Unfortunately, only sophomores and freshmen will be able to enjoy the easier test. Juniors are stuck with the same old test due to the spring change date which is just out of reach of college app deadlines.
Having taken the SAT once and plan to take it again, I can say that this test is way over exaggerated. Sure, it does count a lot toward a college application, but grades count equally as much. Every day, students stress over the importance of this test but when test day came for me, I realized how simple it really is. If I did well, then that’s amazing. If I did poorly, then I can take it again. Just stay cool, stay smart and good luck!