Staff Ed: The SAT does not need to be redesigned. It needs to be scrapped.

Swamped with work from their classes and schedules crammed with after-school sports and part-time jobs, many students are forgetful of the slowly lurking SAT test dates: Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.

The intimidating SAT — the roadblock in the path of the perfect college application envisioned by many high schoolers — is looming.

However, the next class of college-eager seniors will face a new, apparently simplified SAT; shortened from three to two hours and taken completely online, the new test will run on March 9, 2024.

The 2024 SAT re-design has reignited questions about the validity of standardized testing as a determining factor of college readiness and future career success. Truthfully, the SAT isn’t an accurate measurement of a student’s academic capabilities, due to various factors that influence student test scores, including financial constraints that limit test prep opportunities and testing retakes.

Despite this, the SAT is still regarded as a significant part of the college application, as millions file into classrooms each year to take it. In 2023 alone, 1.9 million people signed up for the test, a significant increase compared to 1.7 million in 2022. according to the College Board. The increase seems counterintuitive, as more than 1,800 colleges across the nation are test-optional or test-blind for the 2024 application cycle, including Ivy League institutions like Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard.

In reality, the value placed on the SAT as a standardized determinant of academic performance and college readiness is a deception that many students fall for every year, as test scores are influenced by a variety of factors specific to each test taker.

With unlimited retakes available and numerous opportunities for testing year-round, students with the most resources to spend on the SAT find the most success.

According to the Brookings Institute, students whose family yearly income is over $200,000 outscored, by almost 300 points, students whose family income was less than $20,000 on a 1600-scale.

According to the College Board, as little as six to eight hours of personalized SAT tutoring prep can lead to an average score increase of 90 points. Additionally, only 20 hours can lead to a substantial increase of 115 points. With the aid of tutors, online preparation services and numerous opportunities to improve scores, the SAT doesn’t truly define a student’s college readiness or capabilities for success. Instead, it showcases how much preparation, money and time students can afford to put into preparing for standardized testing.

Test anxiety is another determining factor for SAT results. According to the National Institutes of Health, students who suffer from test anxiety experience frequent distractions in exams and thus experience higher exam failure rates.

Realistically, a redesign isn’t worth the time, and the SAT should just be discontinued. Rather than judging a student’s capabilities and reasoning skill by one standardized test score, colleges should instead consider a student’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills — skills that are extremely important for college and career success, but that are not measured in any capacity by the SAT.

According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, the SAT is designed to predict only first-year college grades, but cannot provide data on students’ chances of graduation or their pursuit of further education, therefore giving no insight into their chances for success long-term. The study also stated that class rank and high school grades are better predictors of college performance than the SAT.

A high GPA is a much stronger indicator of college success and readiness than most of the standardized tests. Instead of putting such a heavy emphasis on the SAT for college evaluation, students should focus their attention on other important parts of their application, such as their GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation and their Common App essay.

There is no need to waste extensive resources, time and energy on the redesign of an inherently flawed test. Scrapping the SAT will better serve the students of our future generations.

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