SATs: shallow measure of intelligence

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The College Board advertises the SAT as being a sufficient indicator of how prepared a student is for college, and it is important to remember that SAT scores are just that: they are only meant to reflect college readiness, not a test taker’s intelligence. 

SAT exams have a history of favoring higher socioeconomic classes. The same holds true today where some families are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for SAT prep courses that promise to boost a student’s score. Students who are unable to afford these SAT workshops are at a disadvantage because they do not have access to the same resources, and therefore, may end up with a lower score than their peers. 

Furthermore, students with test-taking anxiety might receive scores that underestimate their ability. It is not uncommon for students to spend months studying for this consequential test, only to get a case of bad nerves and underperform. It is a sad reality that some students face and is unfair because assessing college readiness should not be influenced by anxiety. 

Others may argue that the SAT is a good method of measuring intelligence because it tests students on how proficient they are in applying math formulas, using reasoning to arrive at a conclusion, and analyzing text. While this is true to a certain extent, these are skills can be mastered through practice, determination, and effort, which all correlate to college readiness. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the SAT does predict how ready a student is for college but not how intelligent they are. 

In conclusion, students should take their SAT scores with a grain of salt, as these exams do not indicate anything regarding a test taker’s intellect. Likewise, colleges should take these scores lightly and not let the SAT—or any standardized test—be the deciding factor if a student should be accepted or not, because these scores can easily be influenced by economic status and anxiety levels. Instead, colleges should pay more attention to a student’s extracurricular activities, GPA, class rank, essays, and recommendation letters to determine if the student is a good fit for their school. 

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