Scholastic Aptitude Test or Success Augury Trial?

I sneak a quick glance at my watch. Twenty minutes left. Two passages remaining in the reading section. Time is winding down and I feel the pressure building inside of me as I briskly fill in the bubbles. Thirty seconds left, one more question to go. Why does Johnny the protagonist feel remorseful? Wait, there was a Johnny in this passage? Five seconds left.

I haven’t chosen A in a while, so let’s go with that. Beep, beep, beep. The proctor in the room stands up to announce that time is up. Handing her my test, I feel as if I am trusting her with not only my ACT answer sheet, but also the fate of my future. If you are a high school student, then you are well informed about the ACT, SAT, CAT, DOG, or any other standardized testing out there, and of the importance of each one.

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Perhaps you are already acquainted with the agonizing feeling of having to stay indoors during the summer to tackle practice tests, while your younger siblings play outside, basking in the sunshine. Luckily, you are not alone. The SAT and ACT were created in the 1950s and since then, millions of students have registered for the tests, with the numbers getting bigger each year. The scores that come out are weighed heavily by universities, and these schools set a range that the applicants should fall within. Ivy League schools such as Harvard University revealed that the average ACT score for its admissions ranged between 31 to 35 in 2013, while Stanford University fell around 30 to 34.

It should not be surprising that these prestigious universities set a high standard for their applicants, considering that they are looking for the best of the best. Nonetheless, are SATs and ACTs the most efficient ways to analyze students? In our high school systems today, we already have GPAs, class ranks, AP courses, etc. These arrangements allow the students, parents, teachers, and universities to evaluate each student to see where they stand in their education in relation to their classmates’ learning. GPAs can reveal how serious a student is about his or her education, class ranks numerically show who is at the top of the class and stands out above the rest, and AP courses can divulge information on how much a student is compelled to take on a challenge and how well he or she can tackle them. All of these factors can provide much more insight into a student than a single test score can. So what do these standardized tests add to the applications that nothing else does? Proponents assert that the scores allow colleges to compare the students on a national level.

For instance, if there are two perfect high school students applying for the remaining spot at Yale University, and both have 5.0 GPAs, fives on all of their AP classes, hundreds of community service hours, seven leadership positions, and are on the varsity team for three sports, but one has an average SAT score while the other is has a 2400, then the student with the full score will likely be the one admitted. But is it fair to allow a couple of exam scores have the final word in such an important decision? Many universities also are in support of these exams because they claim that the scores can predict the potential success of a future student. Success. That is what they are looking for.

In other words, it all boils down to how well I can manipulate the quadratic formula to determine how successful I will be in college. I admit that standardized tests are significant factors in analyzing the intelligence or even the diligence of a student, based on their scores or improvements, but they are not the best tools to utilize in determining potential success. Success isn’t completely based on IQ; a good part of it is created from one’s EQ or personal characteristics that cannot shine through from a math problem. In this perspective, universities may have a hard time deciphering from an ACT score that a student could have the potential to become an accomplished artist, or has the compassion necessary to become a successful humanitarian. Accurate predictions instead come from the rest of the application and even from college interviews, so exam scores should have only a limited say in the admission decision, instead of having the final word. Given these circumstances, should the SAT be short for Scholastic Aptitude Test, or for Success Augury Trial? At this point, I better hope that my lack of knowledge on why Johnny the protagonist feels remorseful will not interfere with my potential for success or acceptance into a distinguished university.

I don’t know about Johnny, but I myself feel quite remorseful having to bust out my prep books for my next college entrance exam.