The SAT Fails Students Across The Country, And It’s Time For Something New


Photo by Andy Barbour

A person bubbling in answer choices on a multiple choice sheet as one might do for the SAT exam.

Hazel Mewett, Staff Writer

With the juniors having just finished taking the SAT this past week, it isn’t out of the ordinary for many of us to ask why the SAT is still in place, or what it is meant to do. Of course, we know that the scores for the SAT used to dictate what colleges you could get into, who would have a key eye on your future, and even more, but they don’t anymore— thank goodness. But that leaves the door open to asking why the test is still around at all, and the answer is pretty clear: it doesn’t need to be.

The SAT is a relic of an old generation, an outdated exam that doesn’t need to exist and one that actively fails to properly assess the abilities of students. Its origins already come from a questionable background, with the test being born from an army test with the intention of proving the academic superiority of white students. And even while this is of course no longer the case, it still is unfairly slanted towards white students due to better accessibility and better access to help courses or tutors. To the credit of the SAT, the test has recently declared that it will move to a digital exam, which will be more accessible due to the resources that going digital allows and the ability for scores to be graded and made public much faster, but this still doesn’t touch on many of the fundamental flaws of the test.

Firstly, the SAT only judges two subjects; English and mathematics. Because of this, it isn’t a proper representation of the capabilities of students. It squashes the strengths of academic youth by not factoring in the individual talents of everyone. It doesn’t take into account anything about what a student can do outside of English or math, and labels students as lesser or lacking due to the inability to excel in exclusively two subjects.

Continuing off of this, the SAT falls flat due to the fact that it applies the same standards to every student across the country. Initially, someone would think an equal playing field is a good thing, and it can be. However, this system only works if every single student has the same opportunities for education and success as everyone else. Schools that lack good funding, good educators, and good curriculum are pitted against schools with every resource they could possibly ask for and more. Students can fail the SAT due to simply not having these resources, but that isn’t factored in at all. Every student learns in a different way; trying to apply a blanket, unchanging standard that doesn’t account for students who are good in fields not specifically tied to education or exams is a bad way to go about evaluating the abilities of our generation.

So, if the SAT is a dumpster fire for properly assessing students, then what can we do instead? A lot, actually. A near perfect example is the simple college essay. In a college essay, students can take multiple different paths and discuss a variety of subjects, and everyone has a chance to shine in their own individual ways. Additionally, it can be done in a variety of forms and the necessary requirements can be altered easily, unlike the rigid system that standardized testing has. There is also a full transcript evaluation like a resume, that takes into account the activities students take part in outside of the classroom. Colleges use these in evaluating whether or not to accept a student, because these fields work and are adaptable to match what people can do. More and more universities are starting to not require SAT scores, which is a step in the right direction, but standardized testing still makes up a large portion of whether or not someone gets accepted to colleges and it’s time for that to change.

We live in a day and age where people are starting to finally learn that everyone learns in their own unique and equally valid way. It’s high time we start acting on that realization.