Colleges still place too much importance on SAT and ACT


Cate Gordon

When applying to colleges one of the most important things on your application is your SAT and ACT score. Is it high enough for that school? Is my math score too low? Do I need to consider retaking the test? All of these questions go through the minds of high school students when looking at different places to further their education, but really how important is the SAT and/or the ACT?

The SAT and ACT are both standardized tests that focus on a wide variety of math, reading, writing, and science skills. The scores for the SAT can range anywhere from 400-1600 and the ACT can range anywhere from 1-36. Almost all schools require either an ACT or SAT score as part of your application. The higher the score, the better the chance of getting into that college. For most colleges your test score is one of the biggest factors of whether you get into that school or not, but this should not be the case. As students we spend 12 years in school learning, studying, and testing. Our future should not be based on one test.

Our intelligence should not be determined by our SAT or ACT score but instead it should be based on the progress we have shown over the years. Colleges should be focusing on how you are able to grow as a student and how you are able to apply what you have learned in class. They should notice that you started off in a basic science class freshman year and have placed yourself in an AP science by junior year. This demonstrates a student’s work ethic and ability to build off of things learned in years past.

I hope that one day, the most valuable thing to a college will be the students’ hard work in school rather than the score of one test.”

The SAT and ACT are one day out of 12 years of learning. Some people have very bad test anxiety and do not perform well under pressure or with a time limit. This might cause a very high performing student to do poorly on his/her SAT and/or ACT.  You might not be feeling well the day of the test which can cause you to lose focus.

Another issue with the SAT and ACT is that every student is on a different learning path. For example, a sophomore may be taking pre-calculus while another sophomore is still studying algebra 2. This makes a tremendous difference. The calculus student has a lot more math experience than the student in algebra 2 and may be able to answer some higher level questions a lot more easily. On the flip side, the  pre-calculus student most likely will struggle to remember how to write a proof in geometry whereas the algebra 2 student just took geometry last year.

The SAT and ACT include various topics, but they lack a section involving history subjects such as economics, government, or cultures. Neither test allows for an opportunity for students who excel in history to show off their skills. The ACT incorporates a science section into its test, but the SAT lacks a science section. The two main focuses of each test are the reading and math sections. What if you are trying to get into a school to major in history? You might get rejected from that school once they see your low ACT score even though math and science will have no influence on your job in the future.

The level of our intelligence should not be measured by this one exam. Colleges need to consider the progress and growth of the students over the course of their high school experience. I hope that one day, the most valuable thing to a college will be the students’ hard work in school rather than the score of one test.