Why the SAT still matters?

Certification: Test Prep SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test

Getting into college is a hassle, especially if you live in the US. You have to pay for it, you have to work for it, and it’s not even sure you will get a good job right out of the benches anyway. Yet you still do it. You still fight the century-old SAT, or the newer ACT, and struggle to get into those money-and-mind mincing machines. However, colleges are starting to see how frustrating getting into college can be. With all the exams, all the worries and future planning, some colleges have begun to cut their prospective students some slack, and well, are making the SAT optional. That is a welcomed change.

As more and more colleges are starting to make taking the SAT or ACT optional, and not mandatory, popularity of the SAT has fallen in the mind of the population. Myths are appearing over the increase in difficulty and criticism is taking flight over the unfairness of the exam. However there are still quite a lot of people taking it each year, so that doesn’t mean it reached its end yet.

It’s a plus.

Weirdly, as fewer and fewer colleges asked for a mandatory SAT or ACT exam, more and more people started taking them. Why? Because the battle to get into the best colleges is a hard one, and so, every plus counts. Nowadays, you need the best and biggest arsenal when going for a top spot in a college and students have been taking not one of the two tests, but both, and repeatedly, in order to up their guns. Colleges or Universities though, first and foremost want to see motivation and interest from their students. It’s no use giving a spot to a candidate if he’ll only quit midterm, or decide he wanted to be a professional dota player instead. And taking an exam that is notorious for its difficulty and is payable ($52), shows just that, interest. And the more interest a.k.a. exams you show, the higher your chance to get the edge over someone else is, even if that someone may have a higher GPA than you.

It’s an easy plus.

Something few people really understand about the SAT is that it is not in itself difficult, as Edward Caroll, someone who takes exams for a living said, but rather it’s their built-in traps and tricky questions and time limit that hinder most examinees. If you get into it unstressed, with a clear mind and some practice beforehand, you have high chances of getting a high mark that would tower as a nuke on your admission paper. It is well known that slackers that did nothing during school ace it while kids who were aces in school get mediocre results. These tests (SAT or ACT) are not as much about the raw ability of the examinee. Their use is to hint at their performance throughout college. Also, on that aspect, the SAT might have easier questions than the ACT, even with the upcoming changes in 2016, when the exam will better mimic the school curriculum. And also, you are allowed to use a graphic calculator during the math portion of the exam, so you don’t have to worry about calculus.


I did say before that the SAT is academically easier than the ACT. In the SAT math portion of the exam, for example, you will never find advanced algebra, or even geometry. Again, these test do not test for raw ability, even if the ACT is more committed to the school curriculum. Also, thinking the ACT doesn’t have its own faults is ludicrous. The SAT is older, and in continuous change, true, but somehow, the College Board manages to keep its test consistent year to year, if we were to believe Edward. Even if the tables have turned and it is now the SAT who provides competition to the ACT, as of the results of 2012, and not the other way around, the SAT still has something to say in the matter, getting passed by only a bit over 2,000 students. However that overtake should not be credited to faults of the SAT, but rather to the popularity of the ACT, which, simply, grew faster, a growth still present, even if in lower stats in the SAT as well. Although far beyond the old “David vs Goliath” prototype, the exams weren’t even matched until that year. (2012)

Better to be safe than sorry.

Even with the increasing protest against the SAT/ACT, some universities or colleges still ask for an exam result for admission. The same rule of more interest applies here as well, but in a rather reduced portion, seeing as it is no longer that optional, and sometimes it isn’t really clear if the higher-education school has or hasn’t an optional policy regarding the exams. That being said, the exams are not that expensive, and it’s better to have them than want them. Either way, if it’s needed you need it, and if it’s optional you can always get a plus in the admission papers. After all, studies have shown that there is a correlation between people that received high marks on these exams and their college performance, so colleges will take note of them. The criticism is more from the fairness perspective.


Yes, the SAT exam is well past its glory days, being outmatched by the ACT in 2012 by about 2,000 people, yet it still holds importance. In some places it is still mandatory, and in the others it’s still recognized, and can work as a plus. And who can contest it, as the number of people taking it has only grown.


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