High School Stressor: The SAT Test

Mary M. '21

It’s a test taken by 1.7 million students across America. Not even the smartest or most well-prepared students can escape the stress of the formidable SAT.

As many a high school student is all too aware, the SAT or ACT is one of the most important aspects that colleges consider during admissions decisions. That’s why Americans spend money on SAT prep programs in order to increase the chance of admission to the nation’s most elite institutions. 

However, students have found ways around the costly process of preparing for the exam. “I used a subscription service called Albert.io that I had used for APUSH. I purchased a subscription for both parts of the SAT and worked off of that,” said junior Molly Shapiro. 

Despite this, the SAT is a formidable test that makes even the most prepared test-takers nervous. Shapiro said, “I was definitely nervous both times. I was a little more confident the second time because I knew what I was getting into, but there were still some nerves.”

Senior Ashley Kane felt similarly about the test. “I felt better about it the second time because I studied more. The more you prepare, the better off you will be in the long run.”

However, the SAT has not been without controversy. These range from widespread cheating in Asia in 2016 to misprints on the June 6th, 2015 test that led to the cancellation of the affected SAT sections. By contrast, the ACT has had a relatively quiet history with infrequent scandals. Shapiro noted though that test also has many unfair aspects, especially since not all students have access to expensive prep programs. 

Mary Musa
The College Board website, which most, if not all, high school students have an account on it. The website gives access to PSAT scores, SAT registration, and even practice questions for the test.

“The entire concept of standardized testing as the most considered medium of college has many issues. The whole concept of a three or more hour test is really difficult for a lot of people,” she said. “People think differently and work differently and it’s not always the best way of measuring college readiness. The fact that it’s been so normalized is problematic.”

Mr. Lang, a guidance counselor, agreed. He disagrees with the SAT’s use as an indicator of success. “The biggest issue I have with the SAT is the importance placed on the test,” he said. “Year after year, this test has been used to dictate college admissions and scholarship offers which society deems as an indicator of success. But it’s a proven fact that no one test will ever determine someone’s future success.”

Despite the controversy and stress associated with it, Shapiro conceded that the SAT can generally be a good way to measure college readiness. “It is a good way to get a benchmark for standardized testing and it’s a good way to practice if you’re not good at it,” she said. “But generally I think the cons still out way the pros.”

Mr. Lang believes the test is mostly only important for college admissions, but can be used to show schools what areas students are doing well in, or what they need improvement in. “The SAT could be important for high schools to use as a measure of what academic areas they are successfully teaching to their students and which areas they can improve upon.”

In the long-run though, the SAT is not the sole indicator of a student’s future academic success. “In no way should a standardized test be used as the sole predictor of a school’s success or of a student’s future success,” said Mr. Lang. “These are inaccurate assumptions based on an imperfect testing process.”