SATs are a huge worry for many high-school students considering college. This is a common sentiment among students excessive nerves coupled with excessive studying and the fear of disappointment from their parents and inside themselves. And college? What are they expecting? That’s a whole new unnecessary scary unknown.
But this worry, just a few lines up, is an eleven-year-old’s fear. This young child left her worried wonderings on the message board of an SAT prep website.
Preparing for the SATs inevitably comes with advice from all corners of a student’s life. Admissions Consultant’s Inc. advises students to “take realistic practice tests [while] practice, practice, practic[ing].” Students must learn words such as abominate, loquacious, and valorous while brushing up on math skills involving matrices and word problems involving trigonometry and geometry.
After this test, when will a person need to know how to multiply two matrices or find the angle an airplane forms with a headwind? Will an adult, years after the SAT, on comment to his wife that he wants to abrogate the punishments given to their teenager? These are not important skills utilized in life.
Dr. Neil Stringer is a research officer at the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance. Even he questions “the validity of using [SATs] for admissions” purposes in an interview with Times Higher Education.
Richard C. Atkinson continues this thought when he points out that the problem is that the SAT does “not have a demonstrable relationship to the student’s program of study.” He told the Sacramento Bee that this is a “problem amplified when the tests are assumed to measure innate ability.”
Colleges who ignore the SATs as an indicator of skill seem to have a much higher pool of students with “innate ability” to choose from, according to a 20-year study appearing on the BNET Business Network. For example, Bates College has now doubled their applicant pool and “drawn increased application rates from women, minorities, and low-income students.”
Not all parents can afford to enroll their children in SAT preparation courses, “now a $100 million per year industry,” according to Atkinson. He explains the pressure everyone, including students, is under. Parents have financial issues with the SAT while teachers feel the pressure to raise students’ scores. “College admissions officers are also under pressure to increase the SAT scores” of each entering class. Sometimes reports of scores are falsified in “parts of the country to improve standings in college rankings. In short, it has become the educational equivalent of a nuclear arms race.”
So is the SAT worth the stress it causes? The stress not just upon the lives of students, but of teachers, parents, admissions officers and university presidents? Is it worth the unnecessary knowledge that will not be used later in life? Is the SAT really worth the hours and hours of studying and $100 billion American dollars? Absolutely not.