The Practicality Test

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Often I hear about the importance of tests in high school and how they will affect my opportunities to enroll in colleges and universities. The test that I am urged to study for is the SAT, created by the College Board. This test has been used as one of the pillars for college admissions for as long as I can remember. Colleges require that high school students try to reach certain scores in order to have a better chance at acceptance, but what really is the use of such a test?

The SAT is a test consisting of several sections of reading, writing, and math. Generally, the test would seem like a fitting and accurate reflection of our high school education and test us on the concepts that we have learned thus far. However, in reality, it is quite the opposite. Instead of the SAT testing students on their ability to comprehend the subjects and use their previous knowledge to solve the problems, the SAT employs a unique set of questions that more often than not are new and irrelevant. For example, words like lugubrious, ameliorate, and nefarious are considered “common SAT vocabulary.” These  words may seem disorientating to the average person and seem to have some elaborate definition. However, the definitions are quite simple and the words have basic definitions. I’d bet that a majority of people have never seen or heard these words before studying for the SAT and I’d even go further to say that they would never hear these words again after the SAT. So, my question is, “Why would the College Board test students on such inapplicable words that would be meaningless to most audiences?”

Through studying, I have come across another fault. All throughout my education I have learned that analysis and interpretation is important. In fact, interpretation is part of what makes us human and leads to the formation of opinions and beliefs. The SAT restricts these teachings and tells the student to focus only on the written text and make no assumptions. Taken out of the test-taking environment, the passages on the test could be interpreted in multiple ways. The SAT only chooses one correct answer and disregards other solutions that in the real word would be considered correct. On the topic of the test-taking environment, there is a sharp contrast between it and the real world.

I feel that it is in the best interest of the national student body to call for reform of the SAT test. This nation has placed so much faith in the effectiveness of the College Board and their ability to create tests. Everytime I take a practice test for the SAT, I always wonder about how practical the test really is. When you think about it, the test offers a variety of constraints. You can not interpret or analyze the text to a normal extent, you are limited in your resources and time, and you are tested on material that is only relevant to the test itself. Given the facts, why is the SAT used as a basis for higher education at the college level you may ask… I have absolutely no idea. I believe that the test should be reformed to better reflect our high school learnings and promote a better understanding of concepts previously learned.

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