One number does not determine ability

by | October 17, 2017 | in Opinions | No Comments

Pencil tapping, palms sweating, my eyes dart around the room awaiting the scantron. When the scantron is placed on my desk my foot anxiously taps waiting for the start time. As the clock strikes 8:00, everyone around me furiously starts bubbling in their scantrons. Fear of falling behind, I quickly begin, my heart pulsing throughout my whole body. I am not alone. Millions of students nationwide are feeling the same way I am. This is make or break day, this is test day. Today, a number decides if I can get into my dream school. Whether SAT or ACT, these tests should be abolished, and a new form of information should affect college admission.

According to the New York Times, in 2016, about 3 million students took the SAT and ACT hoping to achieve their dream scores. But one test cannot measure success. This large number of students were very diverse with their scores and preparation. A teenager from a wealthy background is likely to do better on these tests, due to the opportunity for expensive tutoring sessions that come before the test. The SAT and ACT are biased before students even take it, creating a less diverse pool of students who are getting admitted based on test scores.

Students with learning disabilities are also predisposed to having a harder time on the SAT and ACT before they even take the test. Teenagers with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities struggle more than the average student on any form of scantron tests. For example, it can be extremely difficult for students with dyslexia to comprehend what the test wants them to accomplish. Additionally, someone with ADHD has a harder time keeping focus for the long duration of the test. Accommodations are usually given to fit the needs of students with learning disabilities such as additional time, however these accommodations can be a blessing and a curse. Making a student with ADHD take a seven hour test sets them up for discomfort, restlessness, and a lower test score. These tests are not about intellect and do not accurately portray students with learning differences.

According to the Washington Post, there are already 950 US colleges and counting that recognize this intellect of students over SAT or ACT scores and look at the student as a whole, rather than a statistic. More universities should switch to test optional to create a more diverse learning atmosphere. Colleges are always trying to create more diversity, but it is often overlooked that a learning disability is a diversity as well.
On the other side of the spectrum, colleges argue that they need more information to make a decision during admissions. The SAT and ACT give colleges another piece of the student to consider, and helps to be a deciding factor of admissions in tough situations. A new form of information can be given to colleges such as a personal portfolio, giving insight to the student as a whole, or personal interviews to give a broader perspective. Additionally, these tests give somewhat of an even way for colleges to view students. High schools have different ways of weighting grade point averages, while the SAT and ACT give a uniform evaluation of students.

Rather than make students sweat over a menial number, colleges can open up their admissions process to new ideas. A number does not show what a student is capable of, rather how well they perform on standardized tests. With abolishing the SAT and ACT, students can give colleges a broader sense of their personality and give true insight to their character.