SAT, ACT, and Applying to Colleges

A great stress and pressure for many students, especially high school seniors, is to perform well on college entrance exams like SAT and ACT. The idea has long been that a poor SAT or ACT score will prevent students from getting into the good colleges and other educationfacilities of their choice. However, new research shows that more and more American colleges and universities are placing less emphasis on the SAT in particular, and that it is not as important as it once was to college admission or the application process. This is good news, especially for struggling test takers or those who did poorly on a particular test.

The SAT in particular (which once stood for both Standardized Aptitude Test and afterward Standardized Assessment Test, but now is an empty acronym), is a standardized test for college admissions and acceptance in the United States. The SAT is owned and published by the College Board, a nonprofit organization here in America focused on education and examinations. The test is given and intended to assess, or measure, a student’s ability and readiness to take classes and perform well in coursework at the college level. Yet even with the SAT in place, more college admissions are proving that test scores do not necessarily measure one’s intelligence or indicate high or low college success rates.

Many Colleges Stop Using SAT Scores to Rate Performance

An overwhelming majority of high school students, especially seniors, take the SAT or ACT when preparing to apply to college. Most colleges and universities require a certain score on one, the other, or both of these standardized tests when applying for admission into the school. The minimum score varies on the particular college or university itself. Even for hardworking, academic students or good test takers, this can cause a lot of pressure to succeed and fulfill expectations.

However, taking another look into the purpose and effectiveness of SAT testing has wondered whether the SAT and ACT actually measure more of a student’s test taking skills rather than their actual academic ability to do well in the classroom. Based on this idea that the test may not be the best indicator for scholastic performance, a study released in 2007 by the Fair and Open Testing organization offered an optional test for many United States colleges and universities. The study revealed that many students would feel more confident, encouraged, and capable of succeeding in college without the stress of taking the SAT or ACT to decide their fate, so to speak.

Students, College, and the SAT in the Future

According to Education Portal, the reasoning behind many colleges not placing as much importance on the SAT anymore is varied. Some have stated that the tests cannot accurately predict who will do well in college or not, and that a simple exam does not show work ethic or strong study skills. Others in the field of education claim that students who attend affluent high schools with more money and resources are better able to prepare their students for the particular SAT or ACT test, putting low-income or at-risk students at a great disadvantage in the college application process.

SAT ScoresProponents of not having the SAT play such an important role in the college admissions process state that looking more at classroom performance in the long run to measure academic merit, versus a single test, will attract more culturally diverse, capable, and hardworking college freshman applicants. Having the test optional might also take away the financial issues of paying for the SAT test while giving low-income and minority students a fair chance at getting into the university of their choice. Most noticeably, the students who applied to a college with an optional ACT or SAT test program and focused more on high school classroom academic performance turned out to be a more accurate prediction of college success in the study, which is great news for struggling standardized test takers.

Hopefully, a fair and balanced medium can be reached where students will be able to relieve some of the pressure taking the ACT or SAT when applying to get into the college of their choice, while still having some test or process to help place or prepare them for the academic challenges of college courses.