If colleges don’t consider the SAT, it will hurt Saratoga students

October 22, 2008 — by Brandon Yang

Upperclassmen here and at other schools often complain about the stress associated with the SAT and ACT. The disappearance of such tests would bring immense joy to all students who have yet to take them. However, is this idea as great as it seems?

Some universities have recently announced that they are placing less importance on these tests for admission, or not requiring students to take either test at all. This change appears to benefit high school students, but it will create problems for both the colleges and the students applying.

Large school systems, including University of California, have proposed a removal of the SAT subject tests from the list of requirements for application beginning in the fall of 2011. They hope this will allow students to focus more on school classes and less on standardized tests. Although the subject tests only add on to the list of things high school students need to do before graduating, these subject tests allow students to exhibit their intelligence in the areas they are strongest in.

Some students may be poor writers but demonstrate exceptional abilities in history, which are showcased in their United States or World history subject tests, not the SAT reasoning exam. By removing the subject tests, colleges are limiting the methods students can use to show their strengths.

The removal of these tests will also create issues at schools across the nation. Not only will the lightening of SAT requirements result with a dramatic increase in applicants, but it will also give colleges less to compare among prospective students. Currently, the SAT is given so much weight because it is standard—two people from different schools with the same score had comparable results on the test.

Eliminating the importance of the SAT in the admissions process simply places more weight on a student’s GPA, which is not a standardized measurement. This is especially troublesome because some schools have more difficult classes than others, making it difficult to compare GPAs of two top students from different schools. This will create trouble for applicants from rigorous schools, including Saratoga High, where high grades in classes are harder to obtain.

Course rigor (partly due to the high level at which most students perform) at Saratoga is significantly more difficult than at most other high schools in America, resulting in lower GPAs by comparison. Without the SAT, a crucial element for students to prove their learning and intelligence, the percentages of SHS students who are likely to attend a highly competitive college may be significantly decreased.

Standardized tests have always given students here equal opportunity to exhibit their abilities, despite the different teachers who teach the different courses. Though students may wish to be free of these stressful exams, many of them will not benefit from this new policy when they apply to college.

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