With exams being canceled due to COVID-19, many colleges are not requiring SAT scores for students applying for the 2021 school year, and this removal doesn’t have to be temporary. The SAT should permanently become optional in order to create a more equal playing field.
There is a huge socioeconomic gap among SAT scores. According to Inside Higher Ed, students with a family income less than $20,000 had the lowest scores, averaging 433/800 for the reading section, while students with a family income above $200,000 scored the highest, averaging 570 for the same section. There’s also an alarming racial gap, with white students averaging 106 points higher than black students for the math section.
On the other hand, not every student can get a free test from their school or a fee waiver, and so paying around $50 to take the test in addition to potentially hundreds of dollars for tutoring is unattainable for some.
Senior Thomas Muthalakuzhy attributes his SAT success partly to practice books and taking a second test, which in total cost him $110. He doesn’t think the test should be required to take.
“The SAT isn’t really a good determinant of your actual skill, I think your GPA is,” Muthalakuzhy said, “If I was less fortunate, I definitely wouldn’t be able to take the SAT again,” he said.
While colleges can take into account the scores of students relative to the peers in their area, many people are still at a disadvantage for something that could be the deal-breaker for getting into their dream college or not.
Muthalakuzhy also doesn’t feel like the help the College Board offers is sufficient. Many schools take the PSAT, a practice test, and help videos by Khan Academy can be seen for free, but it’s still not enough to make a noticeable impact.
“Because there’s a year between each PSAT, you really need SAT practice outside of the PSAT,” Muthalakuzhy said.
Another issue is that many students have a high GPA and impressive course load but not as impressive SAT scores and vice-versa.
“I didn’t do that well on the reading section, but I did good on the math section, and that shouldn’t prevent me from getting into the school I want to get into,” Muthalakuzhy said.
Making the SAT optional could fix many of these issues. The SAT is a very unique test with deceivingly worded questions that not everyone has the time to learn about. Questions will, for example, make you think you need to use one formula when you need to use another or have multiple right-sounding answers.
If people want to take up the challenge to make up for a low GPA, they should be able to, but not everyone should or can cough up the potentially hundreds of dollars to do so.
“The SAT just tests how good you are at the SAT,” Muthalakuzhy said.
Jaden Patel // Staff Writer