The SAT does not show students’ intellect

staff editorial

The SAT is a mental marathon. Students all over the country are training for the three and one-half hours of reading and math and an essay that readers peruse for a whopping minute and 40 seconds. One day, one test and one score cannot fairly evaluate the intelligence of a student.

Colleges need to figure out what kind of students they want, and some use the SAT as way to measure the intellect of their applicants.

Standardized testing is supposed to level the playing field. However, because of the many differences in the human mind, certain people are naturally good tests-takers and can achieve high scores with minimal studying, while others continually struggle, and are forced to spend great sums of money on preparation for the test.

The SAT is not a test of aptitude, but rather a reflection of the amount of money the student has spent on test preparations. In some cases students are still unable to achieve high scores on the SAT even after taking endless practice tests with expensive private tutors.

This is a change from when our parents were in high school, and although they studied for the SAT, classes and tutors devoted to the test were rare. In fact, The College Board denied for years that students could benefit from work outside the classroom.

But the “great equalizer” now requires time and energy for preparation. And it must come after study for APs and sports practice every night.

Students who have the money can hire the best tutors and buy preparation books. It does not mean they are smarter. But they have a chance of scoring higher than a student who cannot afford the same.

Colleges get to know students better through interviews. Sitting there in the flesh, a college can see how the student fits with the personality of the school. They see how the student talks, what the student believes and who the student it.

Some schools, such as Pitzer College, are moving away from requiring standardized testing and allowing students to submit a graded paper. Essays bring out a student’s writing voice that is ultimately connected to her ability to articulate ideas.

But we should not be nervous if the national scores have been going down for the past 31 years because low scores do not mean the country’s youth is stupid.

Standardized testing is not a fair judgment of aptitude.

People are more than numbers.