SAT is a poor evaluation tool

The SAT has many flaws, but colleges still use it as an evaluation method for potential students. A better system should be devised that wouldn’t lump 12 years of education into a single, grueling test.

There’s Comcast that controls our lives, priding itself on being “comcastic.” We cannot forget about Walmart, which capitalizes on cheap labor and destroys small businesses. But, perhaps the first entity on my list of evil American corporations is the business that haunts students before they even enter high school.

The corporation is CollegeBoard, creators of the SAT.

Instead of promoting higher education, CollegeBoard, along with its SAT, suffocates students’ minds to think that they are not good enough.

It’s not that I hate the SATs because they are difficult. I hate them because they are impractical in measuring a student’s academic abilities. Everything from the articles’ boring content to switching from English to math to English again makes it impractical. Also, its ridiculous length, paired with timed sections, creates a savagely constructed and incompetent measurement of students’ academic abilities.
Am I being a bit harsh? They certainly cannot be that bad if many colleges and universities request the SAT as the standard test to determine a teenager’s admittance fate.

Professor Christopher Harper recently took it. Except, he wasn’t trying to get into school—he already took it 40 years ago.

Harper, a co-director of Temple’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab, said he felt the overall structure of the test fails to determine a student’s academic foundation or his or her potential ability. It instead focuses on a student’s hustle to complete the sections.

“The test wasn’t necessarily about my ability or knowledge,” Harper said. “It was about having the stamina to do things quickly.”

He also didn’t understand why the test constantly shifts back and forth from math to English.

“You’re trying to concentrate on trigonometry and then, right when you get into a rhythm, are trying to figure out which comma is incorrectly placed,” he said. “It throws kids off.”

This school year, Temple began accepting the essay component of the SAT in its admissions process.
Gregg Lindskog, a political science professor, said he tries to avoid essay questions on in-class tests because students’ work is poorer due to an insufficient amount of time.

Harper contested this notion, saying that “when the work is poor, it demonstrates that those students are poor writers.”

Schools often take a student’s SAT score and stamp it with an identity based on his or her performance. Director of Undergraduate Admissions Karin West Mormando said Temple weighs the SAT and ACT, along with high school transcripts, at approximately 90 percent into a student’s admissions.
She stressed, however, that Temple does not base acceptance solely on one criterion.

“It shouldn’t be taken as a singular method of accepting students,” Mormando said, adding that Temple also considers other compotents, such as extracurricular activities and leadership involvement.

I understand that there needs to be some standard test for students. However, the SAT’s content is manipulative, the atmosphere of testing in a different environment for many hours is unconventional and the pressure of needing to earn a high score to move onto higher education adds stress onto students before they even reach high school.

Harper, who has been a professor at Temple for 14 years, admitted after taking it, “I don’t know what the SAT really tests.”

Matt Petrillo can be reached at

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