The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

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The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

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Testing, Testing…

Recent announcements by elite universities that the SAT will be required for all applicants are adding stress to college-bound high school students as the test turns to a digital format.
photo by D. Crickets

While many dread the idea of standardized testing, it is necessary to consider if it is truly integral to determining a successful student. As college application season thunders along, the SAT has once more become the center of discussion.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 600 schools have switched to test-optional policies,  some even taking the initiative to be test-blind.  It’s enough to make some students think the SAT is now irrelevant

However, a recent change in the admissions process at a prestigious university brings heavy doubt to this belief.

Dartmouth University, the Ivy League school located in New Hampshire, had been one of many selective universities that changed their policy to test optional. But last week, the university stated that it will begin to require all applicants to submit their SAT scores for the class of 2029 and beyond. The school’s statement states that they believe this change is for the better and will bring them more promising students.

Earlier today, Yale University announced that it will follow suit, requiring applicants to submit their SAT or ACT score beginning next year.

Dartmouth’s decision, though, causes concern among many students, more particularly about applicants coming from lower income families and students who may not have access to any resources pertaining to the SAT.

Additionally, some experts continue to question the educational value of the SAT.

“Even though the SAT is an equalizer because academics can differ a lot by school, it still favors students that have more privilege, since they have access to more SAT prep,” NASH senior Wynn Musselman said. 

Iris Hong, a senior who applied to Dartmouth, feels the same.

“There are some students who are indeed gifted enough to land high scores without much preparation, but many high-scoring students–including myself–simply had the money and resources for good tutoring,” Hong said. “SAT scores are greatly boosted by quality test prep, which many students don’t have access to.” 

NASH junior Megumi Kawabe pointed toward the possible redundancy of the standardized test.

“Considering the fact that most schools look at AP tests and rigorous coursework, I believe that the SAT should not be required on college applications,” she said. 

Dartmouth has addressed Hong’s concern, stating that “these test scores better position Admissions to identify high-achieving less advantaged applicants and high-achieving applicants who attend high schools for which Dartmouth has less information to interpret the transcripts.”

The Yale announcement takes a similar defense.

For example, a student with a higher test score coming from a school whose average test scores tend to be low may stand out. The Dartmouth admissions team hopes that their consideration of the student’s performance relative to their environment will encourage them to submit good SAT scores, even if their scores are below the 1500+ average.  

Starting this spring, the SAT will be completely digital, with major developments from its old format. A few of the changes include a shortened test, more time to answer questions, and expanded calculator use. In addition, the test is split into “modules” – if a student does well on the first module, they will receive more difficult questions in the second, or vice versa, if the student performs poorly. Scores are adapted to these changes, awarding more points to difficult questions. 

For juniors, these changes are significant.

“I think that the reading section is a lot better and much less tedious than the reading section on the paper test,” said junior Arya Mehta, who took the digital PSAT last fall.

While junior Pavit Saini agrees with Mehta, he is concerned about the new SAT’s impact on college applications.

“This places even more pressure on getting a higher score, and colleges may raise their standards for us during application season,” he said.

The future of these new changes, though, is firmly rooted in uncertainty as the current junior class can only wait and see how the effects play out next fall. 

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About the Contributor
Teju Annamaraju
Teju Annamaraju, Staff Writer
Teju is a senior at NASH. Outside of school, she dances and, when she has free time, likes to write and code websites. She is always sleepy and tries hard to pay attention in period 1 Physics.

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