Dos Pueblos High School's Student Newspaper

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SAT/ACT Scores: Are They Worth The Stress?

Photo credit: Kimmy Lac

Photo credit: Kimmy Lac

By Gemma Sturgeon, Managing Editor

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After high school juniors frantically google another SAT prep test, they sit in front of the screen only to feel defeat as they unsuccessfully jog their memory in hopes of remembering the volume formula, while questioning is this all worth it?

High schoolers endure many hours of stress, which should not be ignored. The extreme pressure on teenagers to choose the right college alone is enough to cause overwhelming anxiety, but when you throw in relying on a single test score to be admitted into the school of their dreams, it can send high school students over the edge.

According to College Data, colleges look for a student’s overall work ethic in high school, and how much they challenge themselves. Test scores matter if colleges require them, but it can vary from school to school. Test scores aren’t everything, and should not be such a pressure on the already stressed out teenagers.

Maintaining a good GPA is many teenagers’ proudest accomplishment, and that can be diminished through the pressure to receive a score that reflects their true intelligence. When did getting an education become about manipulating the system?

The difference between predictive aptitude tests such as the ACT and SAT, and achievement tests is that they measure different aspects of people’s intelligence. Achievement tests assess how well a person has remembered or mastered subjects they learned, but aptitude tests used for college admission attempt to predict the individual’s performance academically in college.

Although these aptitude tests are meant to cumulatively test students, and test their acquired knowledge throughout their years of school, the bar has been set too high with the competition revolving around receiving a perfect score.

Not all schools teach the same content, and according to Educational Leadership, designers of standardized tests attempt to select test items that measure a person’s knowledge, but those items often do not align with what is taught at all schools.

The preparation that is meant to be review of concepts previously learned is actually like learning a foreign language for students who haven’t covered the topics in the test.

The ACT and SAT include material that students may have forgotten, or sometimes, depending on the school, never even learned.

It’s no secret that those with more money have an advantage in this case. Instead of the tests being a fair measure of a student’s ability, it has become a test assessing how well tutors prepared students, and how well the student learned the tricks to manipulate the test.

In a study by Journalist’s Resource , it was concluded that students from higher income backgrounds generally achieve higher SAT scores.

Financial investment in education is a priority for some families, but those who do not have excess money for tutoring, practice tests, and even the ability to take the test more than once often fall short in their test scores.

It is apparent that there is a lack of fairness in education when the amount of money that students’ parents get on their paycheck either makes or breaks their chance of getting into college. Due the financial advantage some have, the bar has been set so high for SAT and ACT scores, and it has become nearly impossible to receive even a satisfactory score without spending thousands of dollars.

According to Seattle Pi, while there are many factors that affect SAT scores, those of lower socioeconomic status “lack access to adequate material such as practice tests to help them prepare for the exam.”

The fate of students’ future education should be determined by their true intelligence and work ethic, not by the amount of money in their parents’ pockets.

Expensive tutoring sessions, endless hours of relearning algebra equations, and setting aside their homework, is too much for students to handle.

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Dos Pueblos High School's Student Newspaper
SAT/ACT Scores: Are They Worth The Stress?