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What’s With the SAT?

Whats With the SAT?

SAT college requirements and its format are changing. Is it still worth taking?

by Cadence Eastep, Reporter 

When Tegan Henretty, a current junior, sat down to take her SAT test last November, she faced the same exam that many before her had: a bubble-in scantron test featuring four to five sections – reading, writing and language, math with no calculator, math with calculator, and a potential essay. She remained in her testing facility for a three hour and fifteen minute test including the provided breaks. 

The SAT won’t follow this formula for much longer, though. In 2024 – or 2023 for international students, the test will switch to being completely online. The length will be shortened from three hours to two, with the allowance of a graphing calculator during the math portion, according to College Board, the nonprofit organization that conducts the exam. 

The SAT test has gradually become less important in the world of college prep and readiness. According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, more than 1,800 U.S. colleges currently aren’t requiring a test score from students who enroll in fall of 2022, and at least 1,400 of these said schools have extended this policy until at least fall of 2023. Colleges came to this decision due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ability for certain students to have access to the test, as online learning made it quite difficult to provide the SAT for students. College Board had to come up with solutions to the likelihood that students would cheat if they took the test online and at home. They were also faced with the harsh reality that not everyone can spare the extra expense and pay for the SAT – which may be the element that gets them into their dream school. 

This SAT downgrade itself  brings up the question: is the SAT really worth the money and time anymore? 

Tara Walker

The fact of the matter is that the SAT appears elitist in nature. It acts as a competition between richer students to see who can receive the best score, to many students across the U.S. Most anyone sees that college preparedness cannot be reduced to a single indexed score, yet the SAT test system for decades has caused such a situation in college admission offices.

According to Tara Walker, the PRHS college and career counselor, not all schools offer students the same level of preparation for this exam. 

“Before Covid, Paso kids were preparing, but not at a level in which the Bay Area or LA kids are preparing,” Walker said. “And it’s not uncommon to see a perfect SAT score from a Bay Area kid.” 

The format change may encourage people to think that even though increasingly more colleges are becoming test optional, the changes may make the test “easier” and, therefore, still worth it. They might even think that College Board considered the livelihoods of students while formulating their new test. 

Tegan Henretty, 11

Henretty, a junior, believes that there are pros and cons to the new testing format. Being a student herself, she  loves the concept of a shorter test, but she doesn’t absolutely adore the idea of taking it online. 

“I kind of like it on paper because it doesn’t stress on my eyes a lot. Sometimes it’s hard for me to read on a computer for a long duration,” Henretty said. Staring at a screen for two hours might not be the most admirable prospect for high school students. 

Moreover, the changes that come with the new format don’t truly seem to be in students’ best interests. Considering the decreasing importance in taking the SAT in order to get into a lot of colleges, it seems as though College Board is attempting to remain relevant and engaging to high school students. 

Walker seems to have this mindset. 

“I think that CollegeBoard is grasping at straws to stay afloat. The University of California and the CSU system are the biggest national college-like groups, and if they’re not requiring it, then they’re [College Board] gonna sink,” Walker said. 

However, the SAT test hasn’t been just for college admission over the years. It has also provided scholarship opportunities for students. Getting a score of at least 1200 can provide potential low-level college scholarships, with higher scores gradually earning more money with more prestigious scholarships. Plus, California students planning on attending college outside of California might want an SAT score for out-of-state schools, but they could also take the ACT. 

So, is it as imperative to take the SAT exam as it used to be? That’s for the student to decide. With the increasing number of test optional colleges, it might not seem important to waste your spare change on a test that won’t do anything for you in the long run. However, some students might still want the extra gem on their application for scholarships and certain schools. At the end of the day, it’s all up to personal preference, as things of this nature often are.

“I wouldn’t take it unless you’re a really, really, really good test taker, and you’ve been studying for it”

Tara Walker

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