By Ayan Chowdhury
With another school year underway, students and teachers are in the midst of another round of SAT examinations. The next is November 3.
Though the test-optional movement has gained momentum in the recent past, almost two million high school students still took the SAT last year alone, showing that it still plays a major role in the lives of those with college aspirations. According to a March report from IBISWorld, a source for market research, the test prep industry generates more than $840 million in revenue, meaning that on average, one SAT taker spends $420 in preparation for the exams.
Hanna Morrill, a senior at Andover High School, has taken the SAT a whopping four times and has scored well above the national average of 1060. Not surprisingly, much of her time has been taken up in preparation for the SAT, so much so that Morrill believes it has “distracted from school work and has taken over as a priority.”
One of the factors that she claims to have played a role in her success is the spending of around $600-800 on test preparation since her junior year. She states that one’s ability to score high on the SAT is largely based on “how much a student can afford in terms of preparation… it doesn’t really speak to your intelligence or potential at all.” Other students across the country may not be able to afford this hefty price tag for test prep, thus putting them at an unfair disadvantage for one of the most important tests in their lives.
Omkar Savkur, another senior at Andover High School, has taken the SAT twice and has scored a stellar 1570; however, he does not believe his score is a direct reflection of his overall intelligence. Rather he said it is a measurement of “how well you know what the test will be asking and how much you prepare for it.”
His preparation consisted of “doing a lot of questions as well as going over mistakes,” but even with such a consistent work ethic, he stated that the SAT “shouldn’t be that important to the overall college process because it doesn’t measure how good of a student you are, just how well you can take tests and how well you perform on one day itself.” Even though he has performed at a high level on the SAT, both Savkur and Morrill believe in lessening the importance of the exam for college admissions for differing but valid reasons.
Longtime English teacher Mr. Shea, who does outside tutoring for the SATs as well, notices varying levels of stress around the SAT for the students he tutors, but attributes it to “how much the students care themselves about doing well on the test.”
Shea agrees with the lessening of importance towards the SATs in the college process because “students should be able to demonstrate their skills and potential in a lot of different ways,” but recognizes as well that it is “a standard for what you are able to do as a student.”
However, unlike Morrill and Savkur, Shea believes that the SAT has been trying to “make it more authentic” in its ability to do more than just measure test-taking skills, but mentions its “relentlessness in reading” and “timing” that defeats the purpose.