Students and teachers speak up about SAT and ACT tests

Megan Ramsey, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

More than one million students in Texas took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) exams in the 2016-2017 academic school year. In junior year, students begin preparing for the SAT and American College Testing (ACT), and at LASA, all freshmen, sophomores and juniors take the PSAT in October. Many students take test prep classes in the summer. These tests are required by majority of colleges and whether someone gets into their dream college or not can rest heavily upon one test. However, math teacher James Laughead believes the SAT and ACT to be inaccurate representations of students’ academic achievement.

“Ideally, most of the time what people would want is a formal interview and talking to them as people,” Laughead said. “But it’s just not a realistic way to do it with all the applicants there are for college, so it’s incredibly unfair, but it’s just the most efficient way.”

Senior Paul Sherrill thinks the excessive pressure put on the SAT and ACT hurt students in the long run.

“When students should be working on schoolwork, they are studying for the SAT or the ACT,” Sherrill said. “These tests suck an unhealthy amount of time and energy out of students. Teachers and parents put a lot of pressure on students to do well on these tests which only makes them more anxious.”

College counselor Jamie Kocian said that the tests are not perfect in showcasing academic skills. Though a good score can get students into good colleges, there are other aspects colleges consider when reviewing applications.

“Test scores come second to the transcript, i.e. grades, the types of courses the student has taken, has the student taken advantage of the most demanding curriculum offered, what type of high school environment is the student coming from,” Kocian said. “Plus, the transcript represents three years of work as opposed to one early morning Saturday.”

Some colleges, such as Wesleyan University, Knox College and Mount Holyoke College, have started making the SAT and ACT optional. These colleges will take into account test scores, if submitted, but do not require them from undergraduate applicants. Laughead says that test scores should not be the most important part of admissions.

“I think the entire process is done in such a way that it really reduces the idea of becoming a more intelligent, well rounded, capable person to taking a test or getting into a college,” Laughead said. “And that reflects a lot more of your self worth than anything else, which is absolutely absurd.”

Sherrill put a lot of effort into studying and preparing for the SAT, which was worth it because of how much he improved.

“Both of these tests give colleges a good idea of what students can do when tested on a wide range of subjects when they are sat down with nothing but their brain and a calculator,” Sherrill said.

This should not discourage students from setting high goals. If students are worried about the tests, they can see the college counselors.

“With free test prep resources offered by Khan Academy [for SAT] and the ACT website, prepping for these tests has never been more accessible,” Kocian said. “Plus, students can link their College Board PSAT and/or SAT results with Khan Academy to get a ready-made study guide.”

Laughead considers college as just a means to eventually reaching an end goal.

“Do your best to make yourself a more successful person, regardless of where you end up, and then you’ll get where you want to go because I promise you, college is not where you want to go,” Laughead said. “The college is a means not an ends, and if you don’t get the means you want, there’s other ways of getting to that end goal and the college.”