Is the SAT necessary?


By Jordan Craighead & Cairington Stahl, Business Manager & Staff Reporter

Each year, millions of high schoolers sit at desks with two perfectly sharpened number two pencils and a state-approved calculator. They wipe the sweat from their brows, attempt to shake out the nerves and relax their minds. The proctor tells the students they have two hours and then they start one of the most important tests of their life. This test is either the SAT or ACT.

Every year across the country, students practice taking the SAT. At North, this practice test took place Tuesday, April 1o from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

These tests have become controversial, as critics claim that they are not accurate indicators of a student’s knowledge. Still, many believe that the tests are for the best interest of students. English teacher Kristin Alles, believes the test is essential to have because of how often colleges view those scores.

“I think that they test appropriate skills,” Alles said. “I think that one of the things that are controversial, particularly, is how influential they are in admissions to college.”

          From the opposing viewpoint, the test is said to have narrowing effects on colleges in their range of acceptances when it comes time for students to apply. Even though it is widely known as a good indicator of  where a student is at academically, some argue that it only gives college admissions officers a brief glimpse into the minds of its applicants.

         “So a lot of times with these tests, I do like what they assess, but that’s not the whole student,” Alles said. “A lot of students can show their skills and expertise in a classroom, differently than they can on a standardized test.”

        Although the test leaves out certain skills, students that aren’t test-minded can still do well with enough preparation. Tutoring sessions, textbooks, SAT/ACT prep classes and even online practice tests are available to help kids become more familiar and comfortable with the test ahead of time.

Sycamore Learning Company is one of the organizations that offers prep classes. It services 150 schools, located all over the U.S. The main goal of the company is to help students understand the layout of the test, giving them an advantage over those who don’t know the format of the test before taking it. Dan Hayes is one of the representatives from Sycamore who is the teacher of some of the prep classes.

           “We try to focus on specific strategies for each section to help students manage these tests,” Hayes said.

           Among students, opinions on the value of standardized tests vary. Senior Ryan Duncan doesn’t think the SAT restricts a student’s image to a just test score. Instead, he believes that they actually broaden the college options for students.

“Having a good SAT/ACT score but lower GPA can allow you to still be looked at being a possible student at that specific college (with higher average GPA’s).”

           Even though it’s still up in the air on whether or not the test is advantageous to students, standardized tests are here to stay, at least for the next few years. Over the past few years, Alles has seen students’ performance improve on standardized tests. She thinks it is mainly due to the increasing awareness and preparation for them.

“We lot are becoming better at those standardized tests because of just being in front of it more often. So, you can have the skills, and you can have the testing strategies, and all that stuff,” Alles said. “But if you’ve never seen the test, or if you haven’t seen it very often, you’re just not going to do very well on it because it is timed, and you need to be in that environment.”