I have never liked the whole concept of the SAT for several reasons which I will not go on about today. In a world that is so completely different from 30 years ago where experts are trying to figure out how to use the technology of today to make smart more focused students. Where people are thinking about not going to college because of the serious amount of debt that they walk away with. Where schools are attempting to create progressive environments that are more practical for left brain and right brain thinkers, we are still taking standardized tests to help a kid to get into the school of their choice.
Emily's frustration level is high just as Jessica's was and I am sure Josh's will be too. Today sent me over the top when Emily told me that the October SAT is scheduled for Columbus Day weekend. Are you kidding me? Did some idiot just throw a dart on a calendar and decide that Columbus Day weekend would be the best time to test the overly stressed kids across America on the weekend where they actually get an extra day to recharge their batteries. I'd love an answer from the person who runs the SAT/College Board to explain that idiotic decision. That decision says to me that nobody is actually managing the store. Yet every High School kid in the US has to rely on the college board to provide testing so they can get a score to add to the other data that is provided for each college or university to figure out if kid is the right fit.
Emily is the editor of the school newspaper and in complete frustration she wrote this op-ed piece which will appear in the newspaper at her school in the next week. She has hit a lot of nails on the head. Maybe this should be her college essay?
The Scholastic Aptitude Test,
otherwise known as the SAT, is unfair, corrupt, and frankly, complete bullshit.
As stated on collegeboard.com, “The SAT is a globally recognized college
admission test that lets you show colleges what you know and how well you can
apply that knowledge. It tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math —
subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms.” This statement
is completely untrue.
How can the SAT “let you show colleges what you know and
how well you can apply that knowledge” when it’s not like some kids don’t stay
up until four AM in the morning taking unnecessary amounts of Adderall or
Ritalin, whether they are prescribed or not, to study for this test that is
supposedly not made so that one can study for. Not only that, but while the
actual test may be standardized, preparing for it is the polar opposite of
standardized – for colleges to require their applicants to take this test is
unfair and in doing so, they practice class discrimination. Students who come
from upper-middle class families can be tutored ten hours a week from the
so-called best tutors in town from eighth grade on in order to insure that they
receive a perfect score while students who come from families that cannot
afford any tutoring at all – the best they can do is to tutor themselves in
hopes of getting the best score possible, but only the self-motivated kids will
So, what message are colleges sending us? That top-notch education is
only for the rich who can afford endless amount of tutoring or for the lower income kids who
are born geniuses? And what about kids who get straight A’s in school but
simply do not test well? Should they get denied from an Ivy League school that
they could easily thrive in just because they didn’t get a 2300? The SATs force
kids to hibernate in their houses and give up their social lives. They create
tension in school when kids begin to receive their scores and share them in joy
or lie about them and cry in the bathroom. Is this really necessary?
the SAT may be standardized because every student, besides kids who quality for
extra time, receives the same amount of time for each section, does not mean
that it assesses one’s skills appropriately. What if one does not apply their
knowledge in the way that the SAT requires one to? The College Board states,
“taking the SAT is the first step in finding the right college for you — the
place where you can further develop your skills and pursue your passions.” Yet
why would the SAT ever determine for you where you belong, and help you to find
a place where “you can further develop your skills and pursue your passions”?
The SAT in no way measures your skills and most definitely does not measure
your passions. It measures your test-taking skills, and in all honesty, why
does that matter? It is not at all the most important thing when it comes to
college. What is important is learning while being in an environment in which
you are among peers and professors that teach you as you teach them. What is
important when applying to colleges is that they see the true you – your real
skills and passions, and the SAT does not assess this efficiently.
from a progressive school, I learn in an environment that is different from the
traditional textbook driven curriculum. My peers and I learn in an environment
where conversation and interaction with our peers and our teachers is valued
most. Tests take a back seat – we learn to be passionate individuals who will
thrive in the outside world, we learn important social skills through
interactive ways of learning and we learn so much more than any student could
learn from lectures and textbooks. The SAT is a test that will never take this
into consideration. The SAT is in no way a progressive test. So what about us
progressive learners? We have to learn how to study traditionally so that we
can get an excellent score on a stupid test so that we can get into our top
Taking three AP tests, three SATIIs, and the SAT Reasoning
as many times as it takes to achieve my ideal score seems utterly ridiculous.
Yet it’s what my parents, my tutor, and my own self tell me is necessary to
have the best shot in expressing why I should be accepted into whichever school
I desire – I am told, and therefore I tell myself, that I need to take these
tests, and I need to do excellently on them, because writing an essay in which
I tell schools who I am, showing them my transcript with my grades, and
outlining every extracurricular I’ve ever participated in throughout my high
school career is not enough. In order to secure a kick-ass application, I need
to ace the SATs, and even if I do that, who knows if I’ll get in?
the median college GPA of millionaires is 2.9, and the average SAT score is 1190. 59 percent of millionaires attended a state college or university.
Would be even more interesting to see the statistics for billionaires. Half probably don’t have a GPA!
Probably right. Depending on the billionaires. There are the self-madetypes and the LSC’s (Lucky Sperm Club).
Emily gets it. Quote: “What is important is learning while being in an environment in which you are among peers and professors that teach you as you teach them.” That last bit (“that teach you as you teach them”) is progressive and beyond standardization. It’s creative and it’s something tests can’t measure.Well, she will probably do well on the SAT. It’s the peers who actually take this sh*t seriously (in the sense that they think acing a SAT gives them special rights) that I’d worry about. They’re the jerks who are going to end up running Wall Street – probably into the ground.
Yule, I think they already are the jerks that ran Wall Street into theground.
Good essay – why not take a stand by not taking them and only applying to schools that either do not use the SAT or leave it as optional in the admissions process, such as Bates, Hampshire College, Lewis and Clark (and others). (You will to some extent get noticed by admissions and standing out in the crowd can be a god thing.) The SAT is becoming irrelevant and if more students stop taking them they will become more so.
I hope that they do become irrelevant. For her, the fit is not Bates,Hampshire College or Lewis and Clark. I wish it was because she could justbag the whole SAT process.
She wants more of an urban (gotham) school?
Nope. Northeast only. Happy to be in a rural area. Not too big not toosmall. Liberal arts oriented. Looking for a esoteric yet intellectualschool. Loved Middlebury and Amherst. At the end of the day, it’s herchoice to figure out the school where she feels she is a good fit.
whatever she gets on the test this young lady will do great in life as her own person who thinks for herself and expresses herself exquisitelyJ
After reading your piece on SATs, and especially Emily’s thoughtful op-ed, my first reaction was how hard it must be to get back on the college merry-go-round so soon after getting off with Jessica. It is incredibly emotional and takes time to gain one’s perspective again. I am thankful to have a year off before starting once again in earnest.From my little exposure so far, I’ve been impressed with the way LREI drives the college conversation by asking kids what are they passionate about. More schools — hell, all schools — should do that. The downside is the frustration of seeing the college process through a different lens. To most, college choice is about matching kids with the most selective school they can get into and hence the standardized test vortex. It took me a while to appreciate what my kids instinctually know: if the school isn’t a good fit, even if it is more selective, it is still a bad idea. I hope I don’t regress.
As a graduating high school senior this year, these exact thoughts have occurred to me many times throughout this entire agonizing process! The College Board has simply monopolized the college testing industry, quite frustrating for anyone even remotely involved with it. Personally, I do know several students that have taken Adderall or Ritalin and achieving higher test scores than they otherwise would–sad proof of what college testing has done to students. Instead of spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on testing and countless hours poring over prep books, I’d much rather just personally set up an interview with the admissions committee–a much better representation of a student as opposed to numbers on a page.
I could agree with you more. An interview can be the most telling. Thanks for commenting.
Totally agree with Emily and with you.What a waste of energy which they could be channeling toward something bigger and impactful that grows the student and her/his future….and the world around her.The system seems to be created just to sustain ETS and the ecosystem around it. And Emily is right, it is BS.Another observation I’d toss into the mix. Sometimes I hear people being disparaging of “kids today” (I suppose an age-old tension) — and specifically pointing out social media as de-neutering those kids’ abilty to interact. I think that’s BS too, and I appreciate Emily’s writing as an example that counters that attitude.These kids write more than we (I?) ever did. You only get better at it by doing, and doing it about things you care about. And while they need to be effective in interacting across age spans, they need to be hyper-effective at using the media that are native to them.You go, Emily.
Thanks Tereza. I am going to share this with her.
I agree there is a problem with the system, but I’m not sure if the problem is the SAT. I think the problem is the fact that society wants to create a hierarchy among the students based on what schools they go to. Due to the fact that they were around since Jesus Christ was born some schools like Harvard, Yale etc have had the opportunity, financial & political power to market the illusion that a student going to an IVY is far better than a student going to say Rutgers.Once society accepted this hierarchy of schools and rankings, there is no other way than a rat race to get into a school as high up in the rankings as possible.The reality is that high school students are not as separated in preparation and knowledge as the separation in ranking & reputation of the schools they can get into. And that is the root cause of the problem. The SATs are a means of differentiating people where the differences are too small to measure.This problem will not go away by removing the SAT and putting in a new process. The problem is the fact that society uses the hierarchy of schools across the board to evaluate a person at a glance. And until that changes it’ll be a different test or another interview skills training or going to a third world country to prove that you need to do to get into Harvard or Wharton. 🙂 And there will be a new training oraganization that will help you hack the new system for your parents arm and a leg.
You bring up a very good point. There is also no doubt that part of thecollege experience is the people that you spend hours talking with until 3in the morning. Some are looking for a more esoteric crowd, others arelooking for intellects and others are just looking for a good time. Eachschool has a different culture and environment. You know the minute youwalk on to a college campus if you can see yourself going there. I am notsure I have any problem with the different categories of schools but themeans of getting there.You look at at a kid like Cedric in A Hope in the Unseen. He got A’s in areally bad in HS, not all A’s and did awful on his SAT’s yet he managed toget through Brown and graduate. That says something in itself. He waslooking for a place where there were other smart people like he saw himselfin his HS environment. If he was a white kid, Brown would not even haveglanced at his transcript based on his SAT. To me, that is where the rubberhits the road. You have one kid who does okay in school grade wise but acesthe SAT’s. This is not necessarily a student but a great test taker. Willthey go on to graduate? Then you have a kid who does great in school andgood enough on the SAT but doesn’t get into their school of choice whichsome might consider a reach based on their SAT’s. This is a kid who islooking to rise to the top. Perhaps a school dismissed the kid because ofthe SAT’s has made a huge mistake not accepting that kid because there is nodoubt that they would succeed in that environment. This is where I have ahuge issue with the SAT.Rankings are bullshit. Community is what drives the environment.
I agree with your points about white kids with lower SAT scores won’t even make the cut off to have their application reviewed.Brown still has a limited number of openings, and most of their applicants have mostly As. Brown still has to be selective and has to reject a bunch of great kids. what do you think their criteria should be once they narrowed down to 3x what they can accept based on grades in high school?
It is very tough for admissions boards to sift through 10x the applications, most qualified, for their limited spots, so the SATs has served to help them simply reduce the pool as a first cut.However the other side of the equation to me is millions of kids spending 10 hrs/week preparing, for something they take, then is over, and all that came out of it was stress, money spent. No learning, no value out of it for them.ETS and also colleges should challenge the status quo by raising the bar, to create a process by which they can cull their lists in meaningful (but efficient) ways, while challenging those millions of hours of kids energy toward something that helps them grow and better yet — makes the world a better place.Then again, I could be wrong!
I think you are spot on. I totally get the pool reduction otherwise it isbeyond overwhelming to wade through all the applicants.A head of school once said to me that the SAT was like tissue paper. Whenyou have a cold, you go through boxes of it. Once the cold is over, youtoss the tissues away. Maybe not the best analogy but you get the idea.
100’s of millions of hours of bright young minds in the trash can. What a waste!!
I’m going to preface this comment by saying that the SATs need changes or a replacement. :PIs it a pure waste or is it teaching kids skills that are needed in the real world on a day to day basis: that there are tests every day in some form, you need to do well in them whether you like the content of the test or not, you need to work hard but it’s not life or death, you identify your mistakes and redo things if necessary or learn for the future.Teaches you to do projects on the side on top of your day job; to work on that amazing idea you had but your boss doesn’t understand yet.Maybe the content itself is not that useful (im not expert to comment on that), but the preparation process for the SAT says a lot about the kid and how they will handle college.And we still need to try to change the system for future generations.
“teaching kids skills that are needed in the real world on a day to day basis: that there are tests every day in some form, you need to do well in them whether you like the content of the test or not, you need to work hard but it’s not life or death, you identify your mistakes and redo things if necessary or learn for the future.”I agree with you that these are the desired outcomes. However, my argument has everything to do with the content and approach of the test. It is partially informed by my own experience and observations of the kids around me. None of them are idle after school, doing meaningless things.Give me a bottle of wine and a smart adult or two and we could brainstorm a hundred ways that meet that end better than the SAT, for all parties involved (except ETS). A senior thesis, pushing the bounds of modern science? To conceive and deliver a sustainable community garden? To go train elderly people in your community how to use e-mail? To buddy with and tutor less advantaged kids in your community? To start a business?Something bigger than the student ever thought they were capable of doing. Conceiving it, planning it, stretching out of the comfort zone, doing it. That’s lifechanging for them, and for the people they touch.And that’s arriving at college prepared to do something special.
You are spot on.
I agree that the process can & should be improved. I’m not sure about how togo about doing it. 🙂
It is not only about grades, it is about extra-curricular, the essay andwhat the kid is about. I am certainly not in the position to decide whatmakes up a good balance of kids for a particular year but I do believe theyshould look past the SAT and at the whole picture.
Fair Enough. It’s an interesting opportunity for someone to work on.
Just a thought – the decision about what school to go to is one of the least important decisions of a lifetime. Most great kids come out of college being (still) great and most jerks going in come out (still) jerks. By and large life is an accumulation of flukes – college is one of them. Kids will make the best they can of where ever they go. This stuff about “good fit” does not at all jibe with the way the world really is or the lesson’s we all really “learn” (geography, weather, size (all worth considering but of course minor issues in the scheme of things).
Agreed, good fit is not the real world. When you are 18, good fit in aplace that you chose to be vs just ended up (HS), makes all the differencein the world.
Before I say anything I have to admit I have a deep, deep hatred for the SAT. Because of that this entire comment may be biased.I understand why many believe there needs to be some sort of standardized test in the college application process. I don’t fully agree with that, but if a standardized test does need to exist the SAT is probably one of the worst tests they ever could have created for several reasons.Firstly the content in the math and reading portion of the SAT really does not correlate with the material students are learning in high school. Because of this students have to learn a WHOLE NEW curriculum to do well on the SAT… that is utterly stupid and a huge waste of time. It mostly contains useless vocabulary memorization and random math problem solving. Also, The test itself is brutal. You are in there for almost 5 hours answering 10 different sections of material. By sections 9 and 10 i was going crazy both times I took the test. And lastly, the test costs $45 dollars every time you take it. SAT II’s are additional money. Many students have SAT tutors and take the test up to three or even four times… all of this money adds up. Almost every standardized test has a registration fee… but at least most tests actually focus on information that is valuable to the test taker.The SAT is a miserable test that did not prepare me in any shape, way or form for college. It did not make me a smarter person, it did not improve my work ethic. It was simply a road block that got in my way sophomore and junior year of high school. Overall the test wasted valuable time I could have spent working on my schoolwork, my extra-curriculars, or at my after school job. I still resent the SAT and I sympathize with Emily and every single highschooler who ever has to take this piece of nonsense.I think that colleges really should focus on a student’s grades and extra curricular activities. Does the student travel? Excel in sports or the arts? Belong to worthwhile clubs and organizations? Take the time to also juggle a part time job while maintaining high grades? How is the content and quality of the college application essay? How are the students recommendation letters? These are the things that should be judged. I know these ivy league schools have thousands of students applying with impressive credentials but I still think the SAT should never be used as a way of weeding out students.
Great comment Julia. So glad you commented on this post. Your insight is spot on as you just left the insanity and are about to graduate next year. You get it.
You wrote: “When you are 18, good fit in aplace that you chose to be vs just ended up (HS), makes all the differencein the world.”— Hmmmm, excellent! (down one notch for whining about visa but up one notch for “when you are 18”) 🙂
To add insult to injury…”No Child Left Behind.” What a joke that is…so forget the S.A.T., kids are being ranked and filed years before they ever think about that particular test. With budgets allocated based on standardized test scores teachers in grade school aren’t teaching anything but the test in some schools.I’m in Florida (not exactly known for our academic prowess) where our state legislature is currently considering a bill that would also base around 50% of a teacher’s evaluation and compensation/pay increases on standardized test scores.By the time some students even get to the S.A.T. they’ve barely learned a thing other than what may be on a standard math and verbal test…no history, no literature, no music, no art, no comprehension. The trend is downright scary.
You mean, “No Child Gets Ahead”?
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