Change Comes, Even for the SAT

SAT FearsThe College Board recently announced that the SAT will be considered for revisions, although no time frame for a revised test to be used by students and colleges was stated.  Despite speculation about why the SAT is being revised, given the previous changes were made only a decade ago, the reality for prospective college applicants is that the SAT is not going to be abolished from the college application process, although some colleges have implemented test-optional admissions policies, giving students the choice to submit SAT and ACT scores or not.  I can hear the moans and groans now.  A 3 hour and 45 minute testing experience can provoke loud protestations and stress for high school Juniors and their parents.  So, here’s additional information to help give perspective, when faced with having to take the SAT:

  • One: an SAT score is not THE deciding factor in a student’s potential admissions to a college.  The scores are only ONE factor that’s considered in an overall application packet, which includes: a resume of extracurricular activities and leadership, transcripts of grades and classes taken during high school, application essays, AND possibly letters of recommendation and an admissions interview.  Also, the entire application packet will be considered by more than one person within the admissions office, and sometimes, by a committee of admissions professionals before a final decision is made.
  • Two: students can take the SAT more than once.  Only the highest scores are considered by admissions officers; lower scores are disregarded.  Also, some private universities will “superscore” the SAT scores, which means mixing and matching the highest section scores from Critical Reading, Math and Writing amongst multiple test dates.
  • Three: If unsatisfied with the scores, take the ACT with Writing and compare scores.  College admissions offices will consider the higher of SAT or ACT with Writing scores–again, disregarding the lower scores.
  • Four: Study and practice before the test.  Knowing the format and directions can improve confidence before entering the 3 hour and 45 minute test experience.  And, don’t discount attitude in helping keep up stamina for a long exam.
  • Five: think of the SAT and ACT as “gatekeepers” and challenges to actually achieving one’s goal to go to college.  The effort to complete homework and take Advanced Placement classes, as well as participation in the various extracurricular activities, sacrificing sleep and time with friends, will be honored when dragging oneself on an early Saturday morning (7:45 am to be exact) to a high school test center near you and sitting through a 3 hour and 45 minute exam, while the kid next to you chomps her gum and the kid in the corner sniffles the whole time.  Unfortunately, anything worth having doesn’t come easy in this life.  And, what’s the alternative? Are you prepared for the reaction and the possibility to take a different road from peers and what’s expected by parents?

While the SAT or the ACT will not be disappearing in the near future from the college admissions process, take the grumbling and weathering the stress of taking the tests as a rite of passage for millions of teenagers each year, who will join the ranks of previous generations of college going students.  And, in the meantime, complain away.  Then, be sure to get a good night’s rest, eat a nutritious breakfast, take more than one wooden No. 2 pencil (mechanical pencil lead may not be read accurately on the SAT scantron answer sheet) and answer the questions to the best of your ability on the test day.

Photo Credit: The New Yorker,

Caption: Creative Marbles Consultancy, 2013