Using the ACT and SAT for College Admissions

Using the ACT and SAT for College Admissions

The ACT and SAT are a few of the most daunting obstacles a student faces during their high school career. Many students speculate the importance of the SAT and ACT in the college admissions process. Is it fair? Does it measure college readiness? 

The college application process is not only a gigantic step for students who wish to pursue higher education but also a process that requires tenacity. GPA and experiences  are strongly looked upon as the key deciding factors by many colleges. However, test scores make up a bigger part of the process than most students realize. 

Generally, all college applications are supposedly viewed as equal, but in the context of test scores a great difference exists when comparing students who were accepted to University of California schools vs. California state colleges. University of California schools accept students who score in the 90th percentile on the ACT and SAT far more than students who score in lower percentiles. While it makes sense that schools are more likely to accept higher-scoring students, those who struggle with disabilities, such as ADHD or dyslexia, are at a disadvantage. 

Students with disabilities tend to have significant struggles with standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, which of course translates into whether or not they’re accepted into certain colleges and universities Therefore, test scores play a primary role in controlling a student’s college acceptances. But does an alternative exist? Can the system be changed to incorporate standardized tests in a way that is fairer? 

The SAT may be well-suited for some purposes, but the test has some fundamental disadvantages that should be acknowledged.

Pros of using the ACT and SAT for college admissions

  • Determining how a student performs under pressure
  • Assessing time management skills
  • Assesses verbal reasoning skills
  • Tests proficiency in core math areas (algebra, trigonometry, geometry, statistics)
  • Determines college readiness (how well a student will perform in a college-level class)

Cons of using the ACT and SAT for college admissions

  • Leaves students with disabilities (ADHD, ADD)  at a disadvantage 
  • Tests a narrow range of skills and concepts
  • Weighs heavily in the college application process 
  • Lower income families are at a disadvantage (may not be able to afford tutoring services or study guides)

Because of the overwhelming nature of the college application process, not many solutions exist other than removing these tests altogether or creating an alternative test. 
The new SAT set out to change the paradigm by gearing test content toward everyday learning.  As to whether or not the new test has been effective, that’s yet to be seen. Overall, although there isn’t a simple solution, it’s still important to promote preparation for these tests through tutoring and educational platforms such as Khan Academy.

If you’re struggling with timing or specific question types on the  ACT or SAT, check out some of our other blog posts.

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