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Should the SAT Be Permanently Canceled?

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

By Vincent Tran

The SAT is a test almost every junior or senior in high school is familiar with. The test that requires long, grueling hours to perfect with the promise of college acceptance. However, this year has been significantly different. Universities have already been deciding on making SAT requirements for current applicants optional, and some, like the University of California system, have decided to take steps towards completely phasing out the SAT and ACT for college hopefuls as well. With the future of the SAT becoming less clear as more concerns resurface because of online learning and the pandemic, should CollegeBoard rethink the format of the test? Should the test become a thing of the past? Or is the SAT fine where it currently is?

One of the major arguing points against the usage of the SAT is its historical score disparity between students of different races and income brackets. Students who can’t afford luxuries such as tutors and prep books, which disproportionately affects more people of color, tend to have an overall lower score than those who have such resources readily available. For many, this shows how some students are already put at a disadvantage before they can even take the test. However, the SAT’s purpose is to determine how ready a student is for college, in which it can project the extent of how far the student has either exceeded or fallen behind benchmarks they believe are needed to be surpassed to be successful in college. So can it be deemed unfair? Yes. Can it be deemed a failure for its main objective? Maybe. There’s still an ongoing debate about whether the SAT authentically can judge broad skill levels, or whether the student has just been well prepared for a test that has the same format every year, and by no means can determine long-term potential.

As it becomes more apparent the future of the world, both socially and economically, is changing rapidly due to factors such as automation, it’s hard to create a straight path to a successful career. With the main goal of the college to prepare students for high-paying, sustainable jobs, it becomes uncertain whether the SAT can still be held in such regard. Major CEOs have been noted in interviews putting a high value on passion, persistence, creativity, and other mannerisms that can’t be determined by a test alone, especially not in four sections. Even if there are college resumes, which serve as indicating factors of such personality traits, it begs the question of whether or not those should be put of higher importance than the SAT.

It’s important to separate the difference between having the capability of achieving higher studies and being able to get a job. Collegeboard’s main priority is to help determine whether or not a student is ready for college, whether the tests are fair or not. Universities take such data and use it to admit students they believe have potential. It is up to the colleges, not College Board, to pick, prepare, and develop the undergraduates they admitted. UCs and other prestigious schools have questioned the pedestal at which the SAT is bestowed upon, which could be a step in the right direction towards finding passionate students with untapped potential rather than looking at a long list of numbers. Whether or not such changes are going to be followed by more colleges is unknown.

The truth is, the SAT will almost always be unfair to some extent. Resources will always be more available to those who can afford them, no matter how many revisions are made to further support those of low income. Ultimately, the SAT, no matter how unfair, tests what it believes determines college readiness, but what is most important is how colleges take that information and prioritize what on resumes. The SAT, at least for now, shouldn’t be nationally canceled. It will always be up to the colleges, not only the test.


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