Students weigh the worth of the SAT

By: Eric Han, Editor-in-Chief

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A pile of SAT books are stacked on senior Rachel Ro’s floor before the start of Christmas vacation. Rachel took a celebratory photo of these books to post on Facebook with the comment “Adios SAT and TOEFL 😉 I am now FREE!”

Year after year, students take the SAT in an attempt to showcase their abilities to colleges and universities of their preference; however, what toll do students pay?

Many students agreed that pressure is one of the major downsides brought forth by the SAT, whether that be from a parent or self-induced.

“I feel a lot of pressure in that I want to get a good score, but I know that I’m not the only one,” junior Jee Eun Kim admitted. She continued, “I’m surprised that my mom makes a big deal of it [SAT] because she’s usually very chill with my report cards…she actually sat me down and told me to get a good score.”

Junior Emily Park, confessed her source of pressure was somewhat different. “My parents don’t really put pressure on me because they think it affects how I do on the test.” She continued, “They tell me that it’s not everything, but that makes me more motivated to get a better score.”

To feel even slightly more prepared for the SAT and cope with the pressure, students often study on the go, whether that be standing on the bus or sitting on the subway.

Many students expressed their displeasure at being obligated to take the SAT, pointing out how it can potentially lack proper assessment of ones intellectual ability. “I don’t think it’s a good way of measuring your intelligence,” Mr. Harding, an IB Mathematics teacher, noted. “I think it’s a good way of seeing how much information they [students] can cram into their heads for one test.”

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“Some kids are more gifted in things like memorization… but there are also kids who are more gifted in terms of art…things that aren’t really measurable by a test score.”

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Caleb Kim, another junior, also voiced his opinion on the matter. “It does measure certain abilities that one has, such as reading, writing, and math, but for one’s overall intelligence, it’s definitely not the only thing.” Caleb went on, “Some kids are more gifted in things like memorization…but there are also kids who are more gifted in terms of art, understanding concepts, and things that aren’t really measurable by a test score.”

According to Emily Park, the SAT only evaluates a few of “the so many kinds of intelligence.” In this sense, students and teachers alike agree that the SAT is not a perfect method of assessing one’s true and overall level of intelligence.

Many students even replied that another fairer method of testing one’s capabilities should be sought, such as the ACT. The ACT is also a widely accepted standardized test for colleges and universities, much like the SAT. However, the ACT concentrates less on vocabulary, introduces more complex mathematics, and includes a science section, which, for Mr. Harding, makes the ACT a comprehensible and viable alternative to the SAT. At the moment, international students lean more towards the SAT.

Despite this dependence, the student body has somewhat ambivalent feelings towards the SAT. There are those that dislike it for the aforementioned reasons, but there are also those that see the SAT as a tool for success.

Jamie Kim, a senior who has already dealt with the SAT, recalled her past experiences. “It showed me what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. I think it shows you the basic level of your abilities.”

“I’m not really sure about intelligence, but I think it’s a good way to measure how well you can study in college,” Weon Jun Lee a junior, added.

The SAT, consisting of a Critical Reading,  Mathematics, and  Writing section, quantifies students’ success in each area by assigning a score out of 800, in increments of ten. This way, colleges can gauge student’s academic abilities on an international comparative scale, as opposed to an internal grade point average (GPA).

“It’s going to give you a comparison of everyone at the same age,” mentioned Mr. Jonathan Montgomery, an English teacher. “Thousands of people will be looked at who are at the same level of development. So in that way, it’s a good comparison.”

Since GPAs are often unique to every school, a 4.0 at one school may merit a lower/higher score at another. For this reason, the SAT and the ACT take precedence.

Even so,  universities “look to the SAT, the GPA, and the number of challenging courses taken while in high school,” explained Mrs. Adams, the new Upper Secondary counselor. This holds true, since the SAT is limited to literature and mathematics only.

Many students who lack in these particular areas but thrive in others are concerned that their talents will be overshadowed by their SAT scores. However, this is not the case.

Students who seek to matriculate at a college or university by pursuing sports or the arts have different standards. The expected SAT score may be lower than those of others, or may not be required at all.

As the year comes to a close, students have the option to take the SAT I Reasoning Test and the SAT II Subject Tests on the fourth of May or the first of June, the former of which is available at GSIS.

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