The SAT is Rigged

Ella Gage, Opinion Editor

Late last May, the University of California made waves by voting to completely remove SAT and ACT tests as application requirements. Though this doesn’t seem too radical considering all the other Covid-19 seniors of 2021 had test-optional applications due to the pandemic, this is actually an extremely progressive change for schools everywhere in the long term.

Removing standardized test requirements lands a massive blow to the testing industry (yes, there is a testing industry, the way there is an industry for everything else in America) and provides a huge advantage to students in lower-income households. SAT test scores have been found to directly correlate with income levels, so removing the SAT is expected to provide a more diverse group of applicants with a UC admission. Though this move from UC colleges was designed to benefit lower-income students specifically, removing testing requirements benefits everyone. Given University of California’s stature as a prestigious university system, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if other colleges gradually follow suit. 

All around, this is a progressive and exciting step in the right direction, a win-win for students and colleges alike. Not only will colleges have more flexibility in their admissions, but students will have more flexibility in their testing. 

It’s unclear whether taking the SAT will continue to be an optional step before college. Like many other seniors, I was scheduled to take the SAT during the spring. A month before I was supposed to take my SAT, Covid-19 hit and I ended up applying and getting into colleges without the SAT. Speaking as a senior, it’s been great. I’ve always been a fair test-taker, but AP classes on transcripts and extracurriculars speak volumes to admissions boards, especially when they don’t have a written-in-stone test score to look at. 

Whatever the longevity of this progressive no-more-SAT movement turns out to be, I truly hope it’s not temporary for this year and the class of 2021. I’ve always despised the education system for giving its lengthy written tests, despised the process of cramming for hours with material I won’t remember by the next day. The SAT is the same, except larger and  more rigged towards financial status. 

For example: a student who gets C averages and has a 2.1 GPA walked into the SAT and came out with a 1420 score. That is extremely good. How did he do that? His parents paid a highfalutin SAT tutor to practice SAT questions with him, starting midway through his junior year in hopes of getting him into a good college. It doesn’t necessarily reflect his performance as a student, just his adeptness at memorizing material learned through an expensive tutor. 

This exemplifies the privilege gap associated with the SAT. Those who have money for tutors get higher scores; those who don’t have the money to afford tutoring may get rejected by colleges by basis of a test administered on an unlevel playing field. 2020 was the year of change, progress, frustration, and innovation. If there was a time to make a lasting, beneficial change to the testing industry, it was 2020. Let’s hope, for the sake of progress, that other colleges follow suit in 2021.