Put the SAT into perspective

Anna Malesis, Editor-in-Chief

Since middle school, it’s been looming just over the horizon—an abstract monstrosity that filled your heart with giddy fear—but now that you’re in high school, you must face it. You must confront the SAT.
But what really is it?
That doesn’t seem like a difficult question; anyone could tell you that the SAT is just the test people take to demonstrate their skills to college. But what exactly does it measure? What does your score say about you? The answer really isn’t that simple.
The SAT doesn’t measure your IQ, how smart you are, or even how successful you will be. IQ is completely different, and there is no comprehensive, objective measure of intelligence or future success.
That may seem obvious as well: the SAT simply measures your reading, writing and math skills, right?
Wrong. Considering all of the factors that can affect your SAT score, or really any standardized test score, it’s hard to say it even does that much.
If anything, such tests should be seen as a measure of preparedness, which, without further research and consideration, is by no means a ground to reject someone’s application. Not every student has been provided with the same educational background and the same chance to succeed, so colleges can’t accurately judge someone based on this score without knowledge of that background.
Beyond that, there are even daily factors that can have large effects. Since no two tests are the same, the variation can affect your score: the second time I took the PSAT I knew all of the vocab, but the time before and when I took the SAT afterwards, that never happened again. Plus, how are colleges supposed to know if you had a cold or were low on sleep the day of the test?
Sure, this may only cause your score to fluctuate by one or two questions, but one question can be worth 30 points depending on the curve.
In addition, the very fact that taking an SAT prep class can raise your score shows that it doesn’t simply measure your intrinsic skill. Has that class increased your preparedness for college? Probably not. All it did was prepare you for the test, and this introduces even more bias because not every student has that opportunity.
Ultimately, there are so many factors that go into your SAT score that it shouldn’t determine your self-worth, and colleges are starting to realize this, too, with more and more of them going test-optional. So take a deep breath. No matter what, you are going to be fine.