Juniors in high schools all over the United States have either already taken the SAT this year or are intensely preparing for it. The SAT, short for “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” has been mandatory for all students in order to apply to their desired university. Even though this requirement has been relaxed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students aiming to get accepted at Yale, Harvard, Florida State University and many more prestigious colleges are obliged to perform exceedingly well on it. The SAT comprises a reading section, writing and language section, math section and an optional essay. For a shot at entering Yale, a student must earn a 1460 or greater on average, as stated by CollegeSimply. But why should students be tested this way? Often, there are students who perform exceptionally well on reading but fall behind in math or vice versa. This imbalance leads to a lower score overall, decreasing the chances of students getting accepted to their dream school. What about music majors or art majors who maybe aren’t as passionate or skilled in math and reading but are phenomenally creative? Why does that have to determine their chances in getting into Columbia University or Stanford?
For Maria Carrel Morford, a college student at Shawnee State University, SATs do not measure the full breadth of intelligence different people possess. She discusses how tests are incapable of measuring creativity, passion, dedication, and personality. Intelligence should be measured more widely, including core subjects but not limited to them. Diversity is what makes universities unique and prosperous. Students who are extremely talented in the arts, philosophy or other fields that have no room in prestigious schools if they do not meet the criteria for their SATs. This can unfortunately make some students feel discouraged, less valuable, and that they do not possess any real talent. The SATs presume an individual is smart if they perform outstandingly in the core subjects.
The SATs also give particular advantage to wealthier students who are typically white. According to Inside Higher Ed, the College Board effectively believes that “American society is unfair, while the SAT is fair. Those that live in impoverished neighborhoods, attend poorly-funded elementary and secondary schools and are unable to pay for tutors or SAT prep materials are usually students of color. Despite their unfair living and learning conditions, they are still expected to perform as well or better than those that do have sufficient conditions, which could embarrass these students and make them doubt their intelligence and self-worth. Due to their unequal upbringing they have a disadvantage taking the SAT, which then means their chances of getting accepted into their dream school are reduced. Every student has so much potential and is unique and wise in their own way. There is no test that can fairly and accurately determine an individual’s intelligence. On top of that, testing students that have been raised with unequal resources is biased in favor of white and well-off students, ensuring that minorities and financially unstable students are not represented in prestigious colleges.
In order to promote equitable testing for students, colleges should first understand the life goals and passions of their applicants. A better idea would be to emphasize the Common App and college essays in the acceptance process and de-emphasize the weight of standardized testing. For example, aspiring musicians should showcase any music they have composed originally, and if they play an instrument, how well and smoothly they play it.
Of course, since all majors are unique and difficult in their own respects, each university should have a skilled judging panel for each of the requirements different majors have. They should judge progress and merit holistically. All universities should evaluate students based on their own form of intelligence and talent instead of comparing everyone to the same area of intelligence and neglect other useful skills and knowledge. This way students can dedicate more time to their passions and enhance their natural gifts instead of wasting their time and potential with a testing method that favors privileged students.