What’s something that’s physically small but has a tremendous effect on your life, lasts 4 hours but leaves an impact that can last a lifetime? If you’re thinking about one of those never ending lectures about life decisions, you’re about half correct, but I’m talking about 3 infamous letters that can disturb even the toughest people, the notorious SAT. The SAT was created for colleges to assess their applicants during the application process, and while it had good intent, I find it too often that students are convinced that they must get a score of “A” and will immediately be accepted to the “B” university. This is all wrong, employers in America look for people who are entrepreneurs and are involved with society, that is how the United States became successful in the first place, likewise, college admissions officers DO look at a student’s SAT scores to see if they worked to meet their standards IN ADDITION to their extracurricular activities and achievements, because an unsophisticated applicant with a perfect 2400 score has little to offer as an alumnus. Economics students know that as the supply of a product increases, the quantity demanded of that product decreases, and with each generation, students are getting smarter so more applicants with 2400s or with otherwise high score are being rejected because the standard has been raised. To be accepted by a good college, one must be distinguished.
The SAT is effective in making us spend a large amount of time studying, leaving less time for us to be creative and involved in their communities and thus we are not as sophisticated as we can be. We need to realize that numbers aren’t everything, being a good test taker is definitely a strength, but when you think deeper, what does it really mean? If you take note of your classmates, you may notice something interesting; many diligent students of average intelligence work hard to make A’s on their tests and report cards but there are also some unusually intelligent students who don’t do their work and as a result get bad grades and appear less smart. Yet on SAT test day, those slackers score higher than the hard workers because their brains are simply more capable, thus leaving an unusual score distribution where the good students score lower than the slackers. Assuming these students are fairly involved in extracurricular activities, the good student would try to study as much as he can to boost his SAT score, whereas the slacker who scored high the first time is satisfied and continues his extracurriculars, the good student becomes so focused on numbers that he will quit other activities to boost his score. In addition, SAT scores don’t accurately reflect a person’s intelligence, but rather their test taking skills.
Two students of similar intelligence may take the SAT and receive scores with surprising gaps. The SAT measures a person’s ability to choose correct answers under a time limit, which I feel is not fair because there are plenty of smart people who aren’t good at taking tests and vice versa. The difference between a 2400 and a 2300 may be the result of a bad night’s sleep or an unfortunate headache, one test cannot determine a person’s aptitude and definitely not their personality. So why not take it again? Earlier I mentioned the test lasts “only” for four hours, it also costs a good chunk of your wallet, and if you’ve taken it before you know that at the end of this exam you hope to never see it again. Despite my previous rant describing the SAT as a flawed system, I’m about to make a sharp turn.
When the SAT was launched, several education companies began SAT tutoring programs, online classes and publishing a myriad of SAT study guides to enhance our scores. We have so many opportunities to prepare for an important exam; we would be foolish not to take them. Studying for this exam is a sign of responsibility because you are preparing yourself ahead of time and choosing to take initiative. In the time of economic downtime, millions of students still buy SAT study guides, pay for tutoring lessons and pay to take online classes because the test is important, this inelastic demand for such resources help support the educational companies that taught us in the first place. This brings me to my main point, too much of anything isn’t good, but too little is bad as well. The SAT is a good concept but when executed it has its pros and cons.
We should and ought to study for the SAT (despite my rant), take it seriously and aim for high scores because you are paying good money to take a test that many people worked hard to put together and it has weight on your chances of admissions. Make the best out of it. I am writing this because I previously expressed my disapproval about it, and but I want to make things clear; the SAT is important and I am rigorously studying for it as well, but I make sure to take things into moderation and allot my time to various other activities, such as writing for this magazine. There is no excuse for not preparing for the SAT but no excuse for not being involved in other activities as well.