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SATs Unfair?

JebarPolskyJebarPolsky Posts: 766Registered User Member
edited April 2010 in SAT Preparation
I don't know why I am ranting or saying this but I really feel that the SAT reasoning test is unfair. I do not see how it is an appropriate measure of aptitude. For example, if a student wants to study engineering at university, the critical reading and writing sections become almost irrelevant. Furthermore, the math section is not comprehensive enough to differentiate the people who are good at math with the people who are exceptional at math.

Furthermore, the critical reading section tests your ability to read and understand. They say, to do well in that section you have to be actively reading from a young age. Really? I read from a young age. I read a lot, but I read to enjoy the literature, to be pulled into it. I read to be captivated, not to quiz myself about the tone of the passage or what the author is trying to imply.

I really just think that the SAT Reasoning is a failure when it comes to differentiating students except for those that, possibly, want to study English or become actuaries or something. I do not see why they cannot put a little time and effort to compare different forms of testing around the world. All they have to do is look at the standard and difficulty of the majority of popular tests around the world (IB/AP/Honors and the other popular tests in countries with lots of applicants) or simply make a SAT subject test for each subject so that a student wanting to study Economics can take an Economics SAT II.

There are many intangibles that are indicator of personality such as extracurriculars and I am not saying anything against that. But I can imagine a boardroom with the admissions council sitting around in a circle comparing two applicants for that last slot as an Economics major. I can portray them discussing how the applicants display leadership and personality well but one has a higher critical reading score or writing score than the other so he has the better application. It just feels like injustice to me. What if the applicant with the lower SAT score aced all his Economics exams with a 99% (an A) while the other received just 91% (possibly still an A so the same GPA)? They may say tough luck, but really why is there the need for luck when the whole arbitrary process can be avoided.

Opinions?

Just before anyone starts saying that I am just another student that may have gotten rejected from schools so I letting out my rage, I am still a junior. I have yet to apply, and I have a good SAT score. I agree that I may be a little biased towards the critical reading section for it is my worst section, but I still really feel that the system, as a whole, is unfair and can easily be changed.
Post edited by JebarPolsky on
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Replies to: SATs Unfair?

  • hotinpursuithotinpursuit Posts: 719Registered User Member
    but I still really feel that the system, as a whole, is unfair and can easily be changed.
    Changed to what? This system is not flawless, but it is the best there is. They do have a variety Subject Tests and AP Exams in order to differentiate students for engineering/business.
    I do agree that a bit too much emphasis is placed on SAT Reasoning Test rather than AP Exams.
  • GoodbyehelloGoodbyehello Posts: 1,065Registered User Junior Member
    Nice rant...

    SATs are nice in some aspects. My main problem is not the actual test, but that people can take SAT prep classes. It's just that the SATs CAN be studied for (and most "intelligence" measuring tests are this way - not all, but most) and people can be TUTORED. So, those who can't afford classes or a tutor (not saying that they can't) will have a less chance of getting a high score; therefore, the tests become a bit "elitist"...(I might be wrong, but this is my opinion).
  • schoolisfunschoolisfun Posts: 1,238- Senior Member
    ^^That may be, but the books required to excel can be bought for under $100, and preparing by yourself is 10x more helpful than prep classes
  • JebarPolskyJebarPolsky Posts: 766Registered User Member
    I'll be honest though, I do agree that they can be prepared for. Personally, I did prepare. I worked quite hard to bring my writing and reading scores up from 600 to 750. Any test, of aptitude at least, should be preparable (that's not a word :D). I mean if it was a simple IQ test then it would be even worse, for having a high IQ and utilizing that potential are two different things altogether.

    I just really think that they should mix the SAT system with the subject test system. They could have the positive aspect of the SAT - it doesn't give you a vague grade like an A of B-, but rather it gives you a precise score like 2300 - with a diverse nature that the SAT subject tests could provide, that is if they provide a wider range of subjects. Wouldn't you be ****ed if you didn't get into the school you wanted to, and were definitely capable of getting into, because, though you got the higher grade and were more academically capable for the specific course, you didn't get a higher SAT score, which may have been meaningless for your specific major?
  • Objective789Objective789 Posts: 433Registered User Member
    I think the SAT Reasoning test should be supplanted by the SAT Subject tests with Critical Reading and Writing becoming Subject tests. Schools can then specify which combination they want for each disipline. Engineering applicants could take Physics, Chemistry, and Math II for example.
  • BlizzaPBlizzaP Posts: 301Registered User Junior Member
    Completely agree with everything
  • crazybanditcrazybandit Posts: 1,735Registered User Senior Member
    Using the "those with tutors have an advantage" or "the SAT can be studied for even though it is an aptitude test" argument in this case is extremely irrational and unreasonable. Using the counterargument that "the blue book is only $20" is, in turn, just as irrational. The SAT tests your critical thinking. Reasoning, logic, and critical thinking are universal skills. It is does not test topical content, so you cannot compare it to a subject test or deem it irrelevant to a prospective college student studying in a particular major.

    The argument about money, success in college, etc., has nothing to do with reasoning or aptitude. So yes, those things--doing well in college, doing well in your studies, doing well in your prospective career--are independent of the SAT (i.e., you can score low on the SAT but still do well in your major), and rightfully so. But they are tied together because they both rely on critical thinking.

    ALL TESTS CAN BE STUDIED FOR. So how are you going to test a student's reasoning without letting them study for it? YOU CAN'T.

    A 2400 says three things:
    (1), the person is naturally smart; (2), the person studied a lot; or (3) a combination of the two. All of these are certainly good qualities.

    The simple fact is that the math section does not primarily test math. It tests reasoning. The writing section does not test your ability to write. It tests reasoning. The same certainly goes for critical reading.
  • sd6sd6 Posts: 1,251Registered User Senior Member
    100% agree with you, but they need something standardized as a means of comparison for students nationwide. In that aspect, it does its job, just not well.
  • JebarPolskyJebarPolsky Posts: 766Registered User Member
    Crazybandit. An aptitude test would be an IQ test - granted some of the tests we see nowadays are of appalling quality and can be studied for, thus increasing your IQ by 20, but others, the ones that are good quality, truly measure aptitude for it is, in itself, something that cannot be fostered to increased. It is something you are born with. The fact that you can increase your skill in critical reasoning, something which I did, shows that the SAT is a test you can study for and increase your score, which means that it is no different from any other subject test, it is just another test can be mastered with repeated and consistent practice.

    An IQ test, a good quality one at that, is one that can test you on the same thing again and again (for example, patterns in images or numbers) but no matter how much practice, you will not be able to pick it up. I am not saying that the SAT should be replaced with an IQ test, though it may actually be a better and more viable option considering that you can test a candidate's potential to learn through it, and see whether the candidate is utilizing his potential through his extra-curricular, transcript and awards (see his level of determination and hard work).
  • shahdinshahdin Posts: 2,178- Senior Member
    The test is not unfair. In all honesty, it can be studied for.
  • schoolisfunschoolisfun Posts: 1,238- Senior Member
    ^However to the extent which you can increase your score is stunted by your intellectual ability in the long run. Not everyone can study their way to a 2400.
  • crazybanditcrazybandit Posts: 1,735Registered User Senior Member
    Reasoning is a universal skill.
    It is something you are born with

    No, it isn't. Intelligence encompasses capacities like speech and learning, both of which grow over time. Your IQ does not change because it is relative to your age. Your intelligence, in and of itself, naturally grows as you age. Your knowledge of subjects and topics that are studied in college does not affect your intelligence. Subjects and topics are merely the means by which you deduce your answer (i.e., through critical thinking). For example, if you don't know a particular word, you cannot deduce that it is befitting in a particular sentence. If you do know the word, you can apply reasoning to the knowledge. So no, the SAT and the IQ test cannot be compared to subject tests in this way, because subject tests require more knowledge than aptitude. You don't primarily learn new information or topics when you study for the SAT; you really only improve upon your reasoning skills.

    Intelligence is one function of the brain. The brain is a body part. Body parts grow and can be exercised.
    The fact that you can increase your skill in critical reasoning, something which I did, shows that the SAT is a test you can study for and increase your score, which means that it is no different from any other subject test, it is just another test can be mastered with repeated and consistent practice.

    I see nothing wrong here. Subject tests require little intelligence, skill, or critical thinking in comparison.
    An IQ test, a good quality one at that, is one that can test you on the same thing again and again (for example, patterns in images or numbers) but no matter how much practice, you will not be able to pick it up.

    This is very incorrect. It just seems correct to you because the means by which intelligence is tested is more arbitrary and abstract; we can't say that merely memorizing a formula will get you the answer. However, that doesn't mean you can't study for it. Are you going to tell me that if I see various variations of a single problem over and over again, I won't eventually catch on? There are ways to sharpen your ability, perception, aptitude, etc. without directly seeing to the source or the means.
    and see whether the candidate is utilizing his potential through his extra-curricular, transcript and awards (see his level of determination and hard work).

    These are reflected in the rest of your application. How a college considers each individual aspect is its own choice.
  • JebarPolskyJebarPolsky Posts: 766Registered User Member
    What if I were to say that my scores in the CR section increased by 100 over time because I employed more efficient and effective methods, such as attacking the long reading passages section by section as opposed to reading the whole passage at once and then answering the questions. This would show no increase in my overall level of critical thinking as one day I was consistently doing 650, then the next day I was doing 750 consistently purely because of a change in strategy.

    Also, intelligence is a measure of your potential. A person with an IQ of 150 can, if he or she decides to put in the effort, learn a lot more or a lot harder content than someone with an IQ of 130 who puts in the same amount of effort. Furthermore, I doubt someone with the IQ of 80 would have the ability to survive the academic rigor of top schools - that seems to make it an accurate indicator of where one stands within the crowd of applicants. Your IQ is relative to your age, until you hit 16, at which point it doesn't change.
  • crazybanditcrazybandit Posts: 1,735Registered User Senior Member
    What if I were to say that my scores in the CR section increased by 100 over time because I employed more efficient and effective methods, such as attacking the long reading passages section by section as opposed to reading the whole passage at once and then answering the questions. This would show no increase in my overall level of critical thinking as one day I was consistently doing 650, then the next day I was doing 750 consistently purely because of a change in strategy.

    That's like saying a basketball player that hits a lot of his shots is not good because his form and height gives him an advantage. Your SAT score is still mostly due to your reasoning ability. The directions don't say that you need to read the whole passage through before you answer the questions; it just isn't enforceable. The SAT does what it can, and colleges know that; otherwise they wouldn't consider it as a factor in admissions. One does whatever makes him or her comfortable; anything you do during the test is still a product of your mental ability (e.g., using your judgment to form strategies, utilizing the strategies at the right time, etc.)
    Also, intelligence is a measure of your potential. A person with an IQ of 150 can, if he or she decides to put in the effort, learn a lot more or a lot harder content than someone with an IQ of 130 who puts in the same amount of effort. Furthermore, I doubt someone with the IQ of 80 would have the ability to survive the academic rigor of top schools - that seems to make it an accurate indicator of where one stands within the crowd of applicants. Your IQ is relative to your age, until you hit 16, at which point it doesn't change.

    So what's your point? Are you saying that the person with an 80 IQ can score high on the SAT through practice even though they are naturally inferior to the person with a 150 IQ?
  • RandwulfRandwulf Posts: 481Registered User Member
    I think that the politically incorrect truth is that the SAT largely measures IQ.

    It is my belief that someone who scores, for example, a 2250 is either very intelligent or very diligent (that's a simplification of course). If I were a college, I'd want them either way.

    And it's a misconception that you cannot study for IQ tests. Someone already pointed out that you study for them in essentially the same manner that you study for the SATs: repetition.
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