It is time to abolish the racist, classist SAT


Aryam Hussein

Newspaper student prepares to stomp on pSAT prep book

   SAT school days are ones when even the teachers pity us. They often become more lenient, allowing us to bring snacks and drinks (outside of the test time of course) and some even encourage us to wear pajamas. Many educators argue that we shouldn’t be subjected to such a test and apologize for it when it isn’t even within their control. Between the problematic origins of the SAT, questionable usefulness in assessing student ability and costs, it is time to eliminate the SAT from the roster of standardized tests in American schools.

  The SAT has an extremely racially biased history and was originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test but the acronym’s meaning has lost significance over time. The creator of the SAT, Carl Brigham, was an enthusiastic member of the eugenics movement. He believed that people of color were innately less intelligent than white people and made a test to reinforce this belief. 

   This test was initially created as an aptitude test for the military but later began being used to assess students’ intelligence and abilities for college admissions. It, however, does not even remotely measure intelligence and never has.

   During the prime of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers across the U.S. were strongly advocating against students taking the test at that time. Yet, against their wishes, the College Board continued to push the SAT that year. It is all in their hands. 

   The reason that they push this test so strongly is not because they want to assess students accurately or watch them grow, it is simply for profit (even though they claim to be nonprofit). They are one of the biggest monopolies on education in the United States. Every year, they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars for tests like the SAT. 

   The SAT costs 52 dollars without the essay section and 68 dollars with it. In addition to the fees required for all students, many pay 13.50 to 18 dollars for “SAT Question-and-Answer Service”, 15 dollars to get their scores by phone, 30 dollars to verify if scores are correct, 55 dollars to verify if an essay was graded correctly, and 12 dollars to send scores to colleges after the first four. 

    SAT related fees only account for some of their profit, with the optional ACT (American College Testing) and AP (Advanced Placement) tests also generating millions of dollars. 

   Although many colleges are moving away from requiring SAT scores, many still require them. Some colleges also claim that they care about more than the test but reject students with a high GPA and strong essay, likely because they chose to go “test optional.” We still have a long way to go and I believe that we should eliminate most standardized tests like some European countries have. 

   These tests don’t accurately assess students’ abilities. They usually only cover a small amount of what we learn in school and have several questions on topics that we don’t cover in our curriculum. 

   The time limit on the test is also very harsh with there being 180 minutes to take the test and multiple long sections crammed together. The SAT includes reading, grammar, no calculator math, and calculator math. The reading section is one of the most difficult to finish on time with there being 62 minutes to answer 52 questions, meaning that you have 75 seconds to answer each question. 

   It is common for students to struggle to answer each question but it is particularly tricky for students with testing anxiety. There are often students that are very bright and excel in school but that struggle under pressure and receive a low SAT score that doesn’t accurately reflect their abilities. 

   Additionally, there are many expenses that come along with doing well on the SAT. Tutoring and taking the test multiple times are the best ways to improve your score; however, these options are often out of reach for students in low income households.

   There are some free studying and tutoring options that can help but only to a certain extent. The most effective way to boost your score is limited to middle and upper middle class students, which makes the test inherently classist and harder for marginalized minority students to perform well on. 

   As a result, it has become quite easy for experts to predict student’s scores based on factors like income and racial background. Generations of exclusionary housing and discrimination along with the lack of effective, affordable resources available has led to a massive score gap between white, Asian, black, and Hispanic students.

   While the College Board has “taken efforts” to improve this gap and it has lessened slightly, it still remains strong because of how out of reach good resources are for low income students. Hence, the test still serves its original purpose. 

   The SAT is a classist, racist, unfair test run by a money hungry monopoly. Students should no longer be subjected to it.,has%20benefited%20white%2C%20privileged%20students.