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Jane Holcomb: Time to stop praying to the SAT gods

To the editor:

In 2012 the national average for the SAT was a 1498: 496 in critical reading, 514 in mathematics and 488 in writing. This is the national average, yet if you were to receive a score like this at Amherst, you really wouldn’t want to tell anyone. Everyone, myself included, places an unreasonable amount of weight on that score. In a high-achieving, academically rigorous high school there is a stigma around receiving even a 1500 on the SAT. A 1900 is good, an 1800 is permissible. A perfect score is 2400, 800 per section. The SAT is a big deal, but should it be as big as we make it? In my opinion absolutely not.

Many people spend hundreds of dollars preparing for and taking these tests. They drive themselves crazy studying and prepping. For what? Well, according to the College Board website, “The SAT helps college admissions officers make fair and informed admission decisions. Combined with a student’s academic record, it is a proven, reliable indicator of college success.” However, I have a hard time believing that a four-hour test focusing on very specific subjects is any kind of an “indicator for success.” It may be an indicator for how well you prepared or your testing ability, but a measure of achievement? No way.

It is sad to think that admissions officers use this measurement to decide a student’s worth. Fortunately, more and more schools are becoming test optional and in colleges across the country the SAT carries less and less importance when reviewing a students application. Yet in Amherst, we are stuck in a score obsessed mindset. My advice to students, stop letting the SAT stress your brain and your wallet.

Jane Holcomb


Legacy Comments1

(suesox) I'm not saying you don't have some valid points. But I would like to mention that my AP English classes at NHS were taught by one of the three best teachers I have ever had. I learned life-long skills about how to think and process in Rosanne Smith Soffer's AP English classes. I didn't care about the two letters after the name of the course; I was just thrilled to have Ms. Soffer as a teacher. Maybe I'm still in the Dark Ages, but I think "teaching to tests" is wrong. I never felt Ms. Soffer was preparing us for the AP test, borne out by my very poor performance. I didn't care. I still had the knowledge, no matter who said I did or didn't. By the way, the other two excellent, unforgettable teachers were Frank Heston, 9th grade history teacher, and Marion Glasheen, 3rd grade teacher at South St. School.

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