On March 21st and 22nd, students throughout New Hampshire took the required SAT and SAS tests. Unsurprisingly, most were not very enthusiastic about testing for six hours within the span of two days; Junior Molly Boll expressed many of her peers’ thoughts when she described the tests as “stupid.” But, tragically, there is no one for Molly and all the other juniors to place their blame on: The school is required to have students take these tests, and colleges especially want to see SAT scores. But, my peers and I can, (and will), still complain about the ridiculous testing culture of America, and how these tests determine your future.
Of course, the SAT is not nearly as awful as the ‘Gaokao’ test in China, which literally determines your entire future. According to The Guardian, this test lasts twelve hours, upon which takers receive a three-digit score which is the only determining factor for which college they go to, which in turn impacts what job and life they will have. Because of this, Chinese students spend nearly all of their time outside of school studying for the Gaokao. While testing isn’t nearly this intense in America, this just goes to show how extreme the culture of standardized tests is.
Like the Gaokao, the SAT’s are a large part of the college admissions process (but not all of it). SAT tutors are prevalent (even at BHS) and Khan Academy has an entire portion of its site dedicated to the SAT. But do these tests really demonstrate student knowledge? And, if not, are GPA and grades a better representation? This is hard to say because GPA can vary a lot depending on the school, and even within one school grades fluctuate between teachers. Standardized tests are supposed to literally be a standard for comparison, but even with these there are many possible days to take the test, and some may be easier than others. They also only represent one day in a student’s entire high school career, and some people may have anxiety or just had a bad day. And although most colleges superscore, there are still some that don’t and will see every potential bad day. For me, the worst part was that I had to retake the SAT after I had already taken it in November and was satisfied with my score. I hope that in the future, students that can prove they already have an SAT score will not have to take the statewide March exam, but that might not be up to the school.
Other than the SAT’s, juniors in March also took the SAS science test. This was unequivocally difficult, even for those adept at science. After taking the test, I remember going to Calculus where we spent the entire class discussing different questions and how unnecessarily convoluted the wording was. The test continued to mess with our minds afterwards, as everyone tried to understand why some people got more questions than others. The general consensus was that those who answered more questions correctly had more added to answer, but then what if you only got part of a question right? Does it count as a correct or incorrect answer? Overall, the SAS test was as confusing afterwards as it was in taking it.
As SAT scores recently came out, students are even more anxious about the implications of their scores. We can only hope that one day America will outgrow the need for these excessive exams, and that future generations won’t even know what an ‘SAT’ was. But, for now, students must continue to suffer every March as they wrack their brains. However, to end on a brighter note, the administration’s generous provision of muffins and short breaks during the SAT’s were greatly appreciated!