Higher Education should make SAT optional


Krisanny Salazar, Editor

According to PBS, the Scholastic Assessment Test, otherwise known as the SAT, was first created by Carl C. Brigham because he believed that American education was declining. Since then, universities have required SAT scores from their applicants, and many have a baseline score requirement that the applicant must meet in order to be considered for the school.

As stated in Forbes, leaders at The University of California argue that the test benefits both the applicants and the universities, while universities like Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth and over 1,000 others have all dropped the previously required standardized tests, because they are not accurate assessments of students. Covid-19 has played a significant role in college admission requirements for 2020-2021. Due to Covid-19, over 400 universities have temporarily chosen to become test optional. 

The SAT consists of two sections: math and evidence-based reading and writing. Students may also take the optional 50-minute essay if they choose to. According to College Board, it costs $52 to take the SAT, $68 with the essay. Students are given many opportunities throughout the year to take the test, including March 13, May 8 and June 5. The scores range from 400-1600. 

The SAT is nationally considered one of the worst indicators of a student’s chance of graduating from their university. According to Forbes, a student with a high GPA but an average SAT score has an 11 percent greater chance of graduating than a student with a high SAT score but an average GPA. The SAT claims to measure how ready students are for college but instead measures how much students can temporarily memorize for test day; therefore, SAT scores do not accurately reflect students’ potential to complete their undergraduate studies.  

As stated in The Hechinger Report, Jonathan Burdick, the vice provost of the University of Rochester, admits that students who previously submitted low SAT scores have graduated at the same rate as everybody else. This further fuels the argument that SAT scores are not effective indicators of success in students’ academic careers. 

On the contrary, according to The Hechinger Report, the SAT presents a low-cost alternative for disadvantaged students to substantiate their college applications. Students who come from low-income households are less likely able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities due to a lack of convenience and opportunity. A high SAT score can compensate for the lack of extracurriculars that colleges tend to look at. In regards to Forbes, the University of California argues that the tests help accentuate low-income or minority students. 

However, low-income students must try twice as hard to properly prepare for the test, because they do not have the resources to afford tutoring and extra time like their higher-income classmates. The College Board, administrators of the SAT, are trying to diminish the impact of socioeconomic and racial disparities on test scores. In recent years, they have stopped asking about family income. Before that, however, students who came from higher-income families, on average, scored better than those who came from low-income. 

According to “Beyond Measure: How Our Obsession with Success, Homework, and Testing Threatens the Health and Happiness of Our Kids”, The American Psychological Association surveyed and reported 83 percent of students who identified school as their source of stress. Vicki Ables, the coauthor, argues that today’s students are the most examined in history. Standardized tests, such as the SAT, severely impact students’ mental health. Schools put too much emphasis on the SAT and lead students to believe that their futures depend on one test.

In conclusion, by opting to make the SAT test optional for admission, universities will be benefiting students and creating more diverse learning environments at their campuses. SATs do not authentically reflect the students who take them and should not be a defining factor in college admissions.