Portola Pilot

Defined by a Score: Is there injustice in taking the SAT?

Giselle Villegas, Staff Writer

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As juniors are beginning to take the SAT, it has come to a debate if the SAT and the College Board are fair to college applicants. The SAT cannot be used as an accurate measure of college-readiness because of the advantage some students have over others when it comes to affording classes and buying workbooks for taking the SAT.

“I really don’t think [The SAT] is a measure of your knowledge; in a sense, it judges you more as a test taker.” physics teacher Anthony Pham said. “Because they reuse tests, they basically reuse things that they know have tricked people in the past.”

Some teachers, including Literary and Language Arts department chair Jeanne Jelnick, have noted that some students do not have nearly as much advantage as others in affording classes prior to the test, so some go in on test day blind-sighted while others begin the test with complete knowledge on how the test will look and what to expect.

“It doesn’t give lower-class individuals, or even those of a different ethnic background who are great all-around students, a chance to succeed,” junior Gianna Shafer said.

“I’m very cynical about the system; I know many students who have virtually gotten a near perfect score on the SAT, but they are never students I would write a recommendation letter for,” Jelnick said.

Keeping the SAT a high priority as it is can make issues and be a challenge for some students since they devote the time into jobs and extracurriculars while balancing school work as well.

“Yes, the SAT is one component of [college applications]; I just think there are kids out there with test anxiety, and there’s a lot of pressure put on kids that they have to excel at the SAT,” sociology teacher Brian Smith said. “I think colleges should do a better job at looking at well-rounded students, kids that are involved in more activities and athletics.”

Because of the predictability of the SAT and how privileged students who can afford preparation have a greater advantage, the SAT cannot be deemed an indicator of “college-readiness.” Ultimately, this test does not take into account the different types of students taking the test but rather generalizes all students and assigns them a score based on how well they are able to test under pressure.

While standardized tests, the SAT included, are still popular among college application requirements, there is a list of schools that do not require these tests, proving that tests like the SAT do not define the level of success a student has met in their academic careers. When colleges look at applications, priorities should be placed on looking at the student as a person, not as a test score.  

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Defined by a Score: Is there injustice in taking the SAT?