Standardized Testing as a Means of College Entry Essay

Began in the 1920s the SAT was the first ever use of a standardized test to determine entrance into a college (Pacenza). The SAT was originally developed to keep the upper-class from being the only ones to attend college. College professors at Harvard did not like the fact that only the elite attended their college; they wanted the smartest students from across the country to attend Harvard and thus the SAT was formed as a means to test the ability of said students. Since then the SAT has gone through many changes but one constant has remained: its ability to be simple yet confusing (Pacenza).

Today the official use of the SAT is to measure a person’s success rate in college, but there is little evidence to support this. The SAT, therefore, should not be used by colleges as a method of determining admission. The SAT is believed, by many, to be able to predict ones performance in college. It is argued that the SAT works because it is used in a process with interviews, GPA, and extracurricular activities to predict whether or not someone will be able to complete college. Other supporters of the SAT argue that it creates an unbiased testing environment where cheating is almost impossible.

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The most obvious reason that SAT should be abolished as a way to determine college admission is test anxiety. Throughout their scholastic careers students are told about how important the SAT is and how they must do well on it to get into a “good” college and have a “good” life. This pressure to do well on the SAT creates, in many students, test anxiety. Test anxiety is anxiety that is experienced before or during a test to such an extent that it causes poor performance and interferes with learning.

So why would we make students take a test to determine whether or not they get into college when we know that part of them will do poorly on it just because they are taking it? The answer is we should not do it at all. Making someone do something that they are going to be bad at is not fair at all. If anyone should have to take the SAT it should optional and not mandatory to get into college. Of the 4500 colleges and universities in the United States only about 800 of them have made the SAT optional. This system has in no way taken away from the colleges that support it (“Optional”).

The SAT is also inaccurate because it, unlike grades, only shows the test taker’s ability on that one day. If for some reason the test taker is not completely focused their college career could be potentially ruined because of one test. I know that when I took my SAT I was not completely focused and I know that I could have done better. When I took my SAT I had not had time to study because I was busy preparing for finals and writing papers that were soon due. Now if that affected me in as big of a way as I thought it did imagine how any student who is going through any difficult personal issues must feel.

I know the last thing that I would want is to take a test that I had to pay for that determines my future while going through any stressful situation. Besides being inaccurate as a way to measure a student’s future ability in college, the SAT is also inaccurate at determining the actual ability of its takers. A study by MIT professors performed in 2005 found that the length of the essay correlated exactly to its grade. It also showed that most errors, factual or grammatical, were not part of the scoring process.

This means if you wrote a good essay but it just happened to be a little short your score would not be as good if you wrote a decent essay that was longer. This study later went on to prove that high school English teachers began teaching their student to write long, wordy essays while not focusing on facts or grammar; making them worse writers (“SAT”). Although the SAT began its life as a way for the elite colleges to find the brightest students, no matter what their class was, it has, in the last few decades, began to cater to the higher classes.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s many SAT verbal questions were found to contain many words that would be unknown to lower classes, especially people who live in inner-cities. Although those particular questions were omitted from the SAT many people still believe that the SAT is still biased toward the wealthy. In 2007, a study from Harvard revealed that student who come from household earning more than 200,000 dollars a year had, on average, a score 400 points better than students who come from household that earn less than 20,000 a year (“Abolish”).

In conclusion, the reasons for abandoning the SAT are many; it has been found to be discriminatory, it decreases students’ ability, and it is inaccurate. If the SAT is allowed to continue possibly millions of future students will suffer. Works Cited Murray, Charles. “Abolish the SAT. ” The American. July 2007. 1 May 2010. . “Optional List. ” Fairtest. 2010. 1 May 2010. . Pacenza, Matt. “Flawed From the Start: the History of the SAT. ” J-post. 2007. 1 May 2010. . “SAT: Does it Work? ” Time Magazine. January 2006. 98-101. Vol. 197 No. 5.


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