Education, News

Are SAT Scores Still Important?

Every year, the anxiety about getting into college intensifies when SAT preparation begins. Students study hard. Some hire tutors, while others look to online sources for help. Although students continue to prep, and the test continues to be updated, some colleges, students and educators are questioning the purpose and even the necessity of SAT.


Opting out of SATs

For the past decade, colleges and educators having been questioning whether the SAT is an appropriate tool for predicting a successful college student because it does not provide a holistic perspective of the student.

Yet, the objection against the effectiveness of SATs goes beyond these arguments. Some colleges have also chosen to opt out of the system and have made the test optional. In other words, colleges are making their acceptance decisions on based on other criteria – notably their application essays and grades. At least 800 colleges, including major private and liberal arts colleges, have decided not to let the SAT affect who they do and do not accept. Among them are:

  • Bowdoin College
  • Wesleyan University
  • American University
  • George Washington University
  • Wake Forest
  • Brandeis
  • Bates and Smith

What’s wrong with the SAT?

Schools that are opting out of the SAT as a measure of scholarly ability have several reasons for doing so. Among those most cited by scholars, colleges, and researchers are:

  1. The tests do not measure academic ability. Instead, they are a measure of how well students can perform on a test.
  2. The results have been found by polls and studies not to be a good indicator of how well a student will do in college. They are, as colleges have discovered, a very poor predictors of academic success.
  3. The SAT favors students in higher income brackets, who can afford tutors.
  4. The tests also discriminate against students whose first language is not English.
  5. High school grades and the essay will probably matter more in the end.

These are the major criticisms that SATs face. Is there anything to be said in support of these tests?

In Support of SATs

While the tide seems to be turning against SATs, some institutions and scholars still favor it. It is a test with global recognition that does gain students admittance to many colleges worldwide. Current mistakes in the exam are said to have been addressed by the latest version, which will be administered in 2016, the first update since 2005.

Will the Changes Be Enough?

While SAT are generally felt to be a necessary evil by many prospective college students and their families, the test is coming under attack. If, as it appears to some educators, the new SAT does not address sufficiently and effectively the issues facing it and level the playing field, more colleges may decide to opt out. If the movement continues in this direction, could it mean the end of the SATs?

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The Author

Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.