The SAT Should Be Optional


Infographic by Bella Niems

Each year the SAT gets over 2.2 million students. Out of these students only 500 are able to make that perfect score which is less than .5%

Imagine going into a classroom on a Saturday morning after you have been out of school for over five months. Now, this in itself can be daunting, unfamiliar and out of place. Now imagine sitting there for five hours with only two designated breaks where you can use the restroom and eat the food you so carefully packed (hopefully according to the codes or you may receive no food at all).

Photo Taken From College Board Instagram
The College Board announced that the tests would possibly be moved to an online platform. After the inquiries about schools reopening in the fall, the SAT promised to hold online tests if necessary which could lead to an abundance of cheating.

Now imagine being asked to complete over 150 questions and, wait, it gets worse. This one Saturday will decide your future, where you go to college, what kind of degree you receive, what jobs you are eligible for. Every year, millions of students are required to take the SAT to test their overall knowledge and predict their future capabilities which, in the big picture, is no predictor of their future.

Not only is the SAT a stress in the first place, but the SAT is designed to test a student’s knowledge all the way up to grade 11. This poses a problem for those of us who are unable to complete 11th grade in the traditional sense due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My academic experience was cut in half because of the mandatory stay at home orders that blanketed the entire country and a fair portion of the world. “We’re unable to administer the June SAT,” stated the College Board.

Based on the country’s recent guidelines, the SAT is not able to be administered all the way until August because they cannot have large groups of students gathering in the same place. This means that students will have less opportunities to take the SAT and improve their score from their first attempt. This also means that as more time passes, students will have more time to forget the content they learned in their last attendance of school. The Ebbinghaus learning curve, according to modern day psychology says that after 31 days of learning new information, the person only remembers 21 percent of the content. At this rate, students would be failing the SAT by epic proportions.

“The University of California announced Wednesday that it will greatly ease some admission requirements for fall 2020,” explained the Los Angeles Times.
Some schools have taken this information into consideration and have altered the application requirements for prospective students applying for the 2021 school year and are making it test-optional. Some of these schools include California State and University of California schools. These schools have realized the monumental amount of stress that current students are facing and taking this off their plate is a humongous relief.

Photo Taken From College Board Instagram
The College Board announces that they will not be able to hold the June SAT. This was the most recent update given as they promise to hold more SAT’s in September.

Now let’s say you don’t do well on the SAT. This just means that everything else you do has to be “absolutely perfect” or “extraordinary” in the eyes of admissions. This creates added stress to a student on top of life altering situations that they could be facing. Now they have to volunteer at an organization they really have no interest in, they have to find out how to make a “large impact” on the community. But with schools closed, the populations trapped inside, and cities shut down, how on earth will they do this?
Their summers will be eaten up by excessive studying, grooming SAT books, studying formulas, why this philosophical answer is correct rather than the one that makes perfectly clear sense. Suddenly they realize that they have missed out on their last summer as a minor, their entire summer before their last year of high school, the last chance they have to spend with their family.

The SAT is merely “a step on their path to college,” claims the College Board. This is knowledge that we should already have, yet most everyone that does well on the SAT had a tutor. This should plague the College Board with worry. For classes, we need teachers. Teachers are supposed to educate us on topics that we have not already learned, items that are completely new to us. So if the SAT is supposed to test us on knowledge we have already learned, why do we need a teacher? Even those who are lucky enough to be able to afford a tutor for the upcoming SAT season will be at a disadvantage because they will not be able to hold in person tutoring.

The SAT should not be required on college applications, especially in this time of heightened stress and anxiety. Colleges need to realize that we are students, not robots. We are people who have lives, people who have debilitating situations. We are struggling with the rest of the world, and yet we are stressed about one test, on one day, that will determine the rest of our lives.