Spring, TX — With College Board’s recent announcement of future changes to the SAT, some students and teachers believe that the changes — shortening the exam and making it digital — are fair and will “level the playing field” for people of different economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Leonardo Rojas Hernandez, a sophomore in Spring, Texas, said “the changes are great because online learning in the pandemic has trained students to take tests in a digital format.” Shortening the exam time, he said, “will bring less stress and pressure to students.”
Research done by college consulting company CollegeVine showed a positive correlation between a family’s income and a student’s SAT score. If a family makes less than $20,000 a year, the average SAT score for a student would be 970 out of 1600, whereas a student from a household with more than $200,000 in family income would make an average score of about 1230 out of 1600.
“Some students have the economic advantage of being able to buy materials such as practice manuals, textbooks, or even hire a tutor. Some students can spend their time studying for exams, while others are forced to get jobs to provide for their families,” said Grayson Crafts, also a sophomore.
The average student can expect to pay around $50 to $2,000 on study material to prepare for standardized tests. While popular learning site Khan Academy provides free prep for students, you may also run into the unfair advantage of internet access and technology usage, according to PrepScholar, an ACT/SAT prep program.
“I believe education should not have a price tag,” Hernandez said.
In terms of cultural or geographic background, many students have different resources available to them or limited testing centers within proximity. At the peak of the pandemic, hundreds of testing centers around the country were closed. Some students traveled thousands of miles, and even reserved a hotel room, to get to a testing center.
“I believe a person's background does impact how they score on standardized tests. I grew up in a Hispanic household that didn't prioritize standardized tests. Until my siblings took the exam, I didn’t know the importance of exams like these,” said Giselle Hernandez.
Now in the second year of being test-optional, many schools have adjusted the way they view applications, taking into account other factors in a student’s application that indicate sustained academic performance such as transcripts, ranks and GPAs.
Junior Julia Sora says that everyone approaches the SAT differently and a student’s transcript is a better indicator of a person’s academic abilities.
Last year, the University of California system, Merrimack College, Loyola University New Orleans, among others, ended their use of standardized tests altogether, believing it was the right decision considering how many families were disadvantaged even more in this pandemic.
For the next few years, the future of the SAT is uncertain. Depending on the pandemic, this could mean an end to standardized tests.