Rob Carpenter & Sammantha Lim
Worried about the next big test coming up, or rushing to get in a bit of last minute studying? The SAT is a test you should not wait until last minute to study for. Years of learning and studying, all comes down to one stressful and unfair test.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test, commonly known as the SAT, is an assessment that quizzes students on their knowledge of mathematics, reading and writing. For most students, junior year is the most difficult and stressful year of high school due to the amount of pressure they are under to study for and do well on the SAT. “It is quite challenging to study for a test so important that determines your future,” junior Liliyana Lam said.
An alternative to the SAT is another test called the ACT. Colleges accept scores from either test, therefore choosing the one students believe they can do the best on is important. “Although I took the SAT test, I believe the ACT test is better because there is more science and math is not as heavy,” senior Simon Fischer said.
Students depend on a good test score in the hopes of getting into a good college or University. According to the U.S. News website, having a test score requirement will limit the “applicant pool and potentially distort [their] admissions and financial aid decisions.”
Standardized tests take long periods of time and students often lose focus. Colleges may believe that the students lack understanding of the material, but it could be due to drowsiness or loss of focus. “It is very hard for any student to pay attention for hours, let alone have enough focus to get the answers correct within the time constraint,” sophomore George Misovec said.
The format is often confusing or misleading. “Standardized tests are confusing and the questions don’t represent the subject we learned,” Misovec said.
A good deal of students share this strong opinion and speak openly about it. “We must get rid of standardized testing soon and create a more fair system,” freshman Jack Mehler said.
Students who stress over these tests conclude that “the SAT doesn’t give you enough time to take the test and don’t prepare you for the real world. The only purpose of the test is for colleges to see you can score well on a test, but they can get the same information by looking at your GPA,” Fischer said.
Standardized tests are easy to cheat on, and students feel that others get higher scores without knowing anything about the topic. The SAT and ACT, two standardized tests, are major factors in college acceptances. Recently, there has been an SAT and ACT scandal, proving the tests to be invalid. According to CBS, “Prosecutors said parents paid a college test prep organization to help students cheat, either by having stand-ins take the tests for the teenagers, or by arranging for proctors to correct answers.”
This was not the first time that there was an SAT and ACT cheating scandal. Several years ago a boy in New York started a business test-taking for others. “Other students paid [the test-taker] up to $2,500 each to take their tests using easily manufactured fake IDs,” CBS said.
This debate is discussed across the country. According to USA Today, “tests put too much pressure on kids, waste instructional time and encourage educators to emphasize rote memorization.”
Test takers are not actually learning any material. Memorization can be useful for a test the next morning, but the material is often forgotten after the test, and nothing is actually learned.
A handful of students find memorization the easiest strategy for acing tests. “Memorization is key for me to do good in classes like biology, but I find it unfair that for the AP NSL exam, memorization is the best way to do good,” freshman Caitlyn Kwan said.
Students who prep for SAT tests on their own, are thereby learning to be more independent. “The SAT, in my opinion, is more of a mental test than intelligence test. It is full of memorization and seeing how well you handle the pressure taking it,” Lam said.
Students pay tutors to help study for their standardized tests because the results often have a big impact on the future. “Some students have enough money for tutors, which gives them an unfair advantage on others who can’t afford them,” Kwan said. In addition to tutors, students shouldn’t have to pay for a test, in order to receive scores that merely reflect the same performance they have shown through their grades in challenging classes. However, the College Board website argues that “Colleges use Subject Tests to place students into the appropriate courses. Depending on your test scores, you might be able to fulfill basic requirements or get credit for introductory-level courses.”
A reliable solution, such as portfolio-based testing, must be implemented for the equality of all students scores. Portfolio-based testing would gets results based off a student portfolio collected by the teacher or provided by the student. Or another simple solution to this problem is to abolish the test altogether. Instead, colleges should review students’ overall performance throughout high school instead of basing a students’ ability off of one test. “Overall, one must have discipline and dedication to study and do well on this test,” Lam said.