The Future of the SAT: Is it Dying?

By Ana Perez, 9th Grade

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States, although they are also used in certain Canadian universities. It was implemented in 1926 and its grading methods have been changed several times throughout the years. The College Board develops, publishes, and owns the SAT, a private non-profit organization; but even though they claim they are a “non-profit organization,” it costs $52 to take the normal exam and $68 to take the exam plus the essay – so they are gaining a profit by capitalizing on education. The most significant change in the past few years is that many colleges stopped requiring SAT and ACT test scores after the pandemic, since many students are unable to take the test because of COVID or afford to take it after financial issues caused by the pandemic. As many as 600 liberal arts colleges, technical universities, Ivy League universities, and other institutions have switched to optional SAT and ACT test scores in the 2020 – 2021 application season and many others have refused to take any results at all. Before the pandemic, a FairTest poll published by the New York Times said that before the pandemic, only 45% of schools require the SAT / ACT, but after the pandemic, the number is at 80%. This will continue until the end of the 2023 school year, but many believe that the SAT is slowly dying.

The University of California, one of the most popular universities in the United States with 285K applicants, is slowly phasing out the SAT and ACT, as students voted to eliminate it over a five-year time period. 2022 will be the last year that the universities with campuses in Los Angeles, Berkeley, and San Diego will accept the SAT as part of the application for a student that lives in the state of California. However, the tests will still be used for out-of-state students, scholarship qualifications, and for those in study-based STEM fields. The university is working on developing a new test for the applications that will be implemented in 2025, although if the test is not developed by that time, UC will eliminate it’s standardized testing requirements altogether and the Academic Senate will work with the administrative department to develop an approach for out-of-state and international students. 

While the SAT is not dead yet, the SAT and ACT are slowly being phased out of colleges and universities, losing their importance over time, for a variety of reasons, including costs, pandemic-related complications, and how the test simply is not effective.

The SAT is a fairly expensive test, as it costs around $50 – $60. While this may not seem as a big amount, many students choose to take the SAT multiple times to better their chances. Most people end up taking the SAT at least 2 or 3 times, some even taking it four times. In total, the SAT can cost a student between $100 – $240 or $5,751 – $13,802 pesos. Furthermore, many parents would try to pay an SAT tutor to better their children’s chances, which on average costs $70 an hour, although some may even charge up to $250 an hour. If a child has two sessions per week, a parent could be paying $140 – $500 or $8,051 – $28,755 pesos. Before the pandemic, which was before colleges started phasing out the SAT, the biggest complaint about the test was the cost, since most colleges had required the SAT. Basically, if a student was unfortunate enough to be born poor, their chances of entering a good university would decrease, which just reflected the income inequality in America. A big reason that colleges stopped requiring the SAT is that some simply cannot afford these expenses in a pandemic economy, where many either lost their jobs or are quitting. And by the time the effects of the pandemic are somewhat alleviated, people are simply not going to go back to spending all that money if colleges can simply stop requiring the test.

The reason mentioned above relates to post-pandemic complications. People simply do not want to spend that amount of money or cannot afford to spend that amount of money. If colleges can simply stop requiring the SAT, why would they? Because of how expensive the college entrance exams are in the United States, colleges simply decided it would be better in the long-term to make the SAT optional or just eliminate it.

But a big reason many complained about the SAT is because they do not believe it is effective. While standardized testing does a good job for setting standards for a certain university, standardized testing does not reflect a student’s intelligence. Many students who did not do well in the SAT but still made it to college still obtained good grades in both regular and advanced classes. Many students also do better in classes and assignments rather than standardized tests. That’s why many who were against the SAT said it was not a good indicator of whether or not someone was fit to enter a certain university, since outside factors like stress and anxiety could hurt their performance. 

However, the SAT will still be used by a handful of students who need them for scholarship qualifications, live outside of the country, or simply want a higher chance to enter the university. The SAT is not dead, but rather, it is on life support. Right now, the SAT has not been completely eliminated everywhere and it will still be used by a number of students. The SAT won’t die, but its prominence will diminish and it will not be as fundamental a part of the admission process as it was before. 

Whether the SAT is alive or not will depend on the student.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s