Standardize tests scamming students

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To any junior or senior, nights where your desk looks like this are very common. (BluePrints Photo/Nicholas Williams)

Nick Williams

BY NICHOLAS WILLIAMS (‘20)

The ACT has been a staple of American education for sixty years, and the SAT is creeping in on a century.  Ask any high school junior or senior what is stressing them out, and a common answer will almost definitely be these seemingly essential exams.  How important are these tests and are they really a good marker for a student’s skills or the student as a whole? The answer is “No.”  

We have been made to believe that these exams are the key to getting us into our dream college, but in reality they are just businesses making money off the desperate high school upperclassmen, and they have been doing it for generations.

Before the standardization of the ACT and SAT you were accepted to college based on your reading ability and knowledge on ancient languages such as greek and latin.  It took until the mid-1800s for people to desire a higher education, making the services of colleges more of a necessity.  

The rising number of people entering universities required them to revise their admission requirements.  Some of these later requirements included the ACT and SAT. Old problems required these old solutions, but these old solutions have worn out their welcome, and it is time for new admissions requirements to be implemented.

In addition to being a “judgement” of a student’s academic skill, these tests are also massive money makers.  According to the College Board, over 2.1 million people took the SAT last year where each admission ticket cost around $50, amounting to a cash pull of around $105 million.  

Whereas the ACT, according to ACT.org, had a little more than 1.9 million people sign up to take the test.  With a similar admission fee to the SAT, the ACT raked in over $87 million. 

When compared to CNN Money’s list of fastest growing small-public companies, the ACT would place 60th, but the SAT would place 50th.  These companies are making unspendable amounts of money off the trust of the students of America.

It annoys me, and other students as well, to no end when I should be focusing on my school work, clubs, and sports –activities that show who I really am as a person– and instead my focus is shifted to these exams, which show no real reflection of my abilities.

It may seem impossible at this point to change this system that seems as American as baseball, but some colleges such as DePaul University (Chicago, IL) and American University (Washington D.C.) are turning away from the traditional route of looking at a student’s ACT/SAT scores.

Instead, they are favoring a broader look at a student’s life, taking a closer look at their extracurriculars. More schools should adopt this strategy of viewing students as more than just scores.

Thanks to amazing young talent, the world is changing, but it looks like the colleges that bred these minds didn’t get the memo.