SATs and ACTs: Should Colleges Require Them?

SATs and ACTs: Should Colleges Require Them?

August 31, 2019 24 By Stanley Isaacs


– Some of my favorite high
school experiences were taking the SAT’s and the ACT’s, just like everybody else right? I actually bombed the SAT’s
so badly when I took it, I didn’t have a calculator
and I went to an Odd Future concert the night before,
was it worth it you asked. Look at me now, I’ll let you decide. But reminiscing over this had me wondering if we should even be taking
these tests in the first place. So I decided to see what
researchers had to say about it. And just FYI the Odd
Future’s show was tight. If you’re a junior or senior
in high school and you wanna go to a four year college,
you’re probably freaking out right now about the SAT’s and ACT’s and speaking from personal experience bombing them can seriously
hurt your chances of getting into your dream school. But get this, in response to
various critiques of this test lots of schools are making
them optional, really? Where were you guys when I
was applying for college? So should standardized
tests like the SAT and ACT still be used for college admissions? Of the roughly three million
seniors who graduated from American high schools in
2016, more than two million took the ACT and more than
1.6 million took the SAT, some took both, that’s because
the majority of four year colleges including most state schools require at least one of these tests. But that’s changing, about one
third of four year colleges and universities in
America now have some type of test-optional admissions policy. So for most of these schools
you can submit test scores but you don’t have to, to
understand why any school require these test, you have
to study a little history. The SAT (the older of
the two) grew out of an Army IQ exam from World
War one something called the Army Alpha test, it caught
the attention of Harvard’s president who thought the
test could help identify smart, promising students
who didn’t fit the mold of the typical boarding school applicant. He wanted to have more
geographic diversity, most other schools soon followed suit. In other words the test
was originally intended as a way to diversify applicant pools. The exact opposite of what
critics say it does today. Kinda ironic, huh, fast forward to today, the private test prep market
is a two billion dollar industry, the average private
test prep class from places like Princeton Review or
Kaplan can cost you about $600. I don’t know about you but in
high school I didn’t have $600 I mean I don’t have $600
now and then taking the test isn’t cheap either, the
registration fees alone for the SAT and the ACT
cost about another $65 each. The College Board, the
non-profit that administers the SAT does offer fee waivers
for qualified low income students, check that out
in the description below. But still all these costs add up, critics say that these exams
are an unfair and inaccurate way to measure college readiness. They argue that the test
failed to measure the potential of many qualified college
applicants who can’t afford the expensive prep classes,
one major academic study released in early 2018 looked
at student admission data from 28 test optional
schools across the US, ranging from small liberal
art schools to large public universities, the data was then
compared to that of similar schools that still required the tests. The report concluded that
one: high school grades are better than tests at predicting how well students will do in college. Two: schools that were test
optional generally saw a big boost in the number of
applicants from underrepresented communities, especially low
income students of color. And three: students who
chose to submit their scores and those who didn’t have
virtually the same grades and graduation rates in college. Now don’t get me wrong here,
it’s not like the SAT’s and the ACT’s are going away
anytime soon, not even close. Most of the top schools in
the country and almost every state school including all
the UC campuses still require them and take them seriously. Many school admissions offices
still think that the test do a good job of measuring academic rigor, but shouldn’t be the
only thing to consider. Test advocates say that
for the most part the high test scores are the same
students who take the tougher classes and are super
motivated to get good grades. No matter what their racial
or socioeconomic background is and yes, some of the biggest
supporters of these tests are the companies that
make and profit from them. Like the College Board,
one former College Board official claimed that the
big study that I mentioned earlier is “All over the place.” and didn’t really prove
that the test optional policies were responsible
for a more diverse student body, sure those schools
may have gotten more diverse but so have many other schools that still require these tests. Instead the College Board
points to an old study from 2012 that found that
SAT’s combined with grades proved the best predictor for first year college success across economic group. Skeptics of these results
though, were quick to point out that the funding
for that study came from you guessed it The College Board. Defenders of the test agree
that grades are important but they also argue that
it’s better to have more information about an applicant
especially considering that grade inflation is
a lot more common in some high schools than others but
with the standardized test, everyone’s taking the same
thing and is scored the exact same way and the testing
industry claimed that the test are continually evolving to
better measure relevant skills and test that students are
actually learning in high school rather than whether they
can remember the definition of legerdemain and perspicacity. Look those up ’cause we
definitely had to do that. Test critics say that no matter
how much the test improves it remains fundamentally
unequal in its design because it grades on a bell curve. Meaning the difference between
a high score and a low score can be just a couple of questions
but that tiny difference can determine who gets in and who doesn’t. So now it’s your turn, let’s
say you’re the one who gets into your dream school, what
do you think is the best way to measure if a
students’ ready for college. Let us know in the comments below oh and speaking of test
prep, check out this video about procrastination, it might
not be as bad as you’ve been told and if you’ve been looking
for a way to procrastinate watch this dope video that ask, is video game addiction really a thing? And as always guys like and subscribe and we’ll see you next time. I’m your host Myles Bess, watch the videos, now.