Battle against multiple choice SAT tests gaining an edge

By on May 12, 2011

This is a guest post from Alexa Mauro, a junior at Boston University

A test split in half; 50% multiple choice and the rest an essay portion. Your essay is comprised of an elegant prose, diverse vocabulary, and a salient point which resonates with readers. Not only that, but you wrote precisely what your teacher was looking for: an understanding of the material and an expression of your own viewpoints. However, when your test is returned, you receive a C. Remember those high school and college days of lapsed judgment and silly oversights on the multiple choice section of tests? All too often, students feel as if they were not able to reach their full potential on standardized exams because option A was just as viable as option B, but the teacher could not be bothered with petty arguments. This frustration has been extending from high school classrooms to larger, more formal high school class settings for years, facilitated by an examination more commonly known as the SAT, or scholastic aptitude test.

The SAT, currently measures a student’s aptitude and create some sort of baseline for college admission offices to utilize for quick and easy judgment. However, making students so one-dimensional does not solve anything. The essay portion of the application truly epitomizes a student, their personality, what they’re background is, and what their most deeply rooted beliefs entail. The philosophy that this portion of the test is immensely more important than filling in hundreds of small bubbles is catching fire; in fact, a petition[1] has been posted online to sign to rid the college application process of this subjective test. Even ignoring the plethora of studies which show women and minorities clearly perform worse on this test,[2] it seems nearly impossible to not know a straight A student who may score poorly one morning.

Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California, proposed dropping this method of testing and evaluating students in 2001.[3] In an article published by The American, the SAT aptitude test is referred to as a “wealth test,” which is precisely what essays will morph into if the playing field is not leveled. High school students must be given resources and the ability to succeed. In a time when the SAT is becoming less important, and possibly soon-to-be nonexistent, students who cannot afford a $6,000 counseling service need the tools to write an educated, well-informed piece of work. The college admission process will not improve until all students are given an equal opportunity, and currently, gouging affluent parents’ pockets for their bonuses so their children can learn something that college students themselves can teach does not seem like a step in the right direction. After all, the college students proved themselves and had what it took to gain admission into these top schools, so wouldn’t they know best?




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