The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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To take or not to take

Students ought to take the SAT and ACT exams
Jessica Mekhel
Behold the familiar bubble sheet. This is a bubble sheet you use to take the paper SAT, along with a booklet that contains the questions.

In a world where the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) face growing skepticism, it’s time to think about the evolving college admissions. With an increasing number of colleges adopting test-optional policies, debates over the relevance of taking these standardized tests are gaining momentum. 

The University of California’s Academic Senate reported the tests as a means to identify talented students from low-income or minority backgrounds, reinforcing their utility in evaluating students’ readiness for college.

It’s worrying to see more people saying we should stop taking the SAT and ACT. The tests, while imperfect, have historically served as a vital criterion alongside other measures like transcripts, essays, and extracurricular activities in assessing college admissions.

However, the arguments against taking these tests often come from claims of bias, as standardized exams favor affluent students who can afford preparatory courses. 

Research from institutions like the University of Chicago and Penn State questions the correlation between high test scores and long-term success, indicating that these scores do not predict community contribution or career satisfaction.

The recent shift toward test-optional policies during the pandemic fostered a broader applicant pool, bringing more diversity to campuses and disproving the merit of standardized tests as a predictor of success. Institutions that adopted test-optional policies experienced substantial increases in applications from underrepresented minorities, first-generation students, and those facing economic barriers, showing the impact of removing test score requirements.

Studies suggest that standardized test scores primarily correlate with family resources and often exacerbate existing societal inequalities. Less wealthy students face numerous barriers to education, like having less resources and no safe or quiet place to study, while the wealthy can leverage resources like test preparation, private tutors, and better educational environments, skewing the admissions process. 

Rows of chairs stand in an orderly fashion, ready for students to take the SAT/ACT in them.

While acknowledging the flaws of the SAT/ACT, it’s important to recognize that dismissing them entirely doesn’t offer a solution to the issues in college admission processes. 

Removing these tests will not make things more equal. It will be more beneficial for you to study for the SAT and take it, as it can increase your chances of going to college.

These tests, while not perfect, are a common benchmark, particularly in a vast and diverse country like the United States, where achieving absolute equality in education is challenging, and near impossible. For example, high school transcripts and grade point average present their own set of challenges, including grade inflation and subjective evaluation. 

A balanced approach that considers the strengths and weaknesses of standardized tests in conjunction with other admission criteria appears to be the best way forward. Colleges are moving in the right direction of focusing on broader evaluation of student potential and past successes. 

However, taking the SAT/ACT remains very valuable in the college admissions process, offering a standardized means of evaluating students. While acknowledging the wealth gap and the challenges that poses, we should also recognize the resources available to prepare for these tests. With resources like Khan Academy providing free, comprehensive test preparation materials, students from various socio-economic backgrounds can access high-quality study resources at no cost, making it fair for those who might not afford expensive prep courses. Despite the socio economic issues, students that are willing to invest time can use these resources, and take advantage of them. 

Additionally, College Board offers fee waivers for students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, enabling them to take the SAT twice without any cost. This accessibility ensures that financial constraints do not affect a student’s ability to showcase their academic potential through the SAT and the ACT. 

Although some may say we should stop taking the SAT and ACT, it’s a good idea to study for and take these tests. Not everyone has the same opportunities, but there are ways to prepare and help you get ready. 

The important thing is that putting in the effort to prepare for these tests can really make a difference. It will be more beneficial for you to study and give it a shot than to skip it altogether. It’s better to try than not at all.

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