Should The SAT Be Eliminated From College Decisions?

Should The SAT Be Eliminated From College Decisions?

This year, more colleges than ever have decided not to consider SAT scores in their admission process, including both the UC and CSU systems. This has raised the question of whether SAT scores should be considered once again after the COVID-19 pandemic or if they should be permanently left out of the equation.

Despite being a baseline indicator of a student’s academic ability, a student’s SAT score has proven to be a much worse indicator of whether a student will graduate college than their grade point average. 

A study done by Matthew Chingos of the Urban Institute showed that of students with similar SAT scores, those with higher GPAs were more likely to graduate. However, of students with similar GPAs, there was a weak correlation between higher SAT scores and graduation.

While students’ SAT scores may show their ability to study and master a test, their GPA shows the long term commitment of their capacity to learn, complete assignments, study, and test. Many more hours are put into the four-year period and numerous courses that determine a student’s GPA, than the studying and three hours that it takes to complete the SAT. I believe this makes it clear that colleges should focus on student’s GPAs if they are looking for students who will be committed to graduating.

Another reason the SAT is such a weak indicator of college success is the material itself. The math section of the SAT only tests from Cam High’s math levels 1 through 3, which puts students who take higher level math classes at a disadvantage. At Cam High, many students skip Math 1 and take Math 2 as a freshman. This means by the time they take the SAT at the end of their junior year, there has been almost a full year since they were learning the math on the SAT. Unless they have been studying specifically for the SAT, they may struggle on certain problems from the grade they skipped or problems they have not seen for over a year.

Much of a person’s SAT score comes down to how much they have studied directly for the standardized test. According to the New York Times article, “Inside the Pricey, Totally Legal World of College Consultants,” parents can buy their children college preparation packages for up to $1.5 million, which include extensive preparation for the SAT. Pricy SAT coaches and studying programs lend an advantage to wealthy, upper class families and are thus unfair to middle and especially lower class families.

These packages are essentially ways to purchase your SAT score, and I believe this delegitimizes how indicative the test is of college readiness. The test can also be taken many times with no consequences, so I would not admit a student based on their scores, considering these scores may simply be the product of retaking the test over and over again.

With the University of California system suspending SAT testing requirements through 2024, I would like to see many other universities follow suit, and it seems likely that they will.