by Vincenza Belletti

The SAT is one of the most important tests students will take in their high school careers. Because of this, there are endless ways to prepare for the test, from checking out an SAT workbook from the library, to group prep classes, to one-on-one tutoring classes. Is this fair though? The answer is no.

Depending on how you study for the SAT, the cost can climb fairly high. One-on-one instruction at home or online with a Kaplan Test Prep certified tutor for a total of twenty hours costs $3,799 and six three hour Kaplan classroom prep sessions costs $749. These prices are very high, and for a family that is struggling financially, they will be unable to give their child these opportunities to increase their chances of succeeding on the test. Because of this, students with lower family income on average don’t do as well compared to upper class families. According to The Wall Street Journal, statistics provided by the College Board show students whose parents made more than $200,000, the highest income bracket, on average scored 1722 out of 2400, almost 400 points higher than students from the lowest income bracket, who scored 1324 on average.

Good SAT scores are a key factor in obtaining scholarships and financial aid. Families that can’t afford SAT classes most likely won’t be able to afford college either, but the better the SAT scores, the more financial help students will receive to aid in paying for college tuition. This is another disadvantage that students from less financially stable families face.

Though it’s not to say that students who come from families who struggle financially are condemned to perform poorly. There are plenty of students who have far exceeded expectations on the SAT, earning themselves enough financial aid and scholarships to cover the entire cost of tuition.

Many people feel that SAT prep classes and one-on-one tutoring does not provide an advantage because they can study on their own with SAT prep booklets that can be bought or checked out from the library. While they can study on their own, classes teach students what to study, which parts of the test, counted the most, and provide tips and tricks that others may not know.

Another disadvantage that underprivileged students face is the actual cost of the SAT. The current SAT costs $54.50 and the new test will cost the same if you choose to write the essay. Middle and upper class students can afford to take the test multiple times to achieve their best scores, giving them the upper hand compared to underclass students who can only afford to take the SAT once. Fee waivers are available to apply for, but financial help isn’t guaranteed.

One solution to this issue could be to simply lower the high costs of these sessions. It is completely unnecessary for institutions to charge such a large amount of money for these classes. Another option could be for high schools to hold free or low cost SAT prep classes after school or on weekends. Since Stuart has a high number of students from lower income families, many of them would benefit from a service like this.

The Wall Street Journal reports “the SAT is just another area in American life where economic inequality results in much more than just disparate income.” This is evident through the statistics provided by The College Board pertaining to the economic status of student’s families and their scores achieved on the SAT.