sat_act1Testing is in our lives, just about from the moment we are born.  In fact, we get two tests performed on us in the first 6 minutes of life: the Apgar Test. And from then on, it’s a race to the finish of each successive test.

But of course, this is how we measure things: health, school work, ability to get a driver’s license, typing speed, readiness for college. It’s this last test that we are concerned with today. They’re commonly known as the SAT and the ACT. They used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and American College Testing, but now simply go by the acronyms SAT/ACT.

They represent true terror to many juniors and seniors in high school! Well, if not terror, then real anxiety, because these two tests used to be one of the most important factors looked at for admission to almost all universities and colleges. They were known to be the deciding factor between a student’s first choice of college or maybe their fallback choice.

And they were widely considered to be an almost infallible predictor of how a student would perform in a school of higher education.

We now know that some schools, seeing some potential gifted students being turned away, then began to require an essay, or an interview, or recommendation to supplement the SAT/ACT score. And then, by the late 1990’s, there was a full-on revolt against any standardized test for admission to college or university.

Those of us at New England Tutors are intimately familiar with standardized testing for college. We have either monitored them, taken them, helped our kids with them, or conducted classes to help students get prepared to take them. In fact, one of our most requested services is our SAT/ACT preparation course.

But that aside, we do agree with those who question the reliability and value of a standardized test for admission to college. And one reason is that some of our brightest, cleverest, and most interested student learners have done miserably on test day. The variety of reasons are many, but still, they were not in top form that day and they scored in the lower percentiles. Heartbreaking is not too strong a sentiment for these examples.

And then there are the students who might never get a high score. Are they out of luck for college? Of course not! One article by Allen Grove on gives these suggestions:

  1. Retake the exam
  2. Take the ACT (or the SAT) In other words, take the other test.
  3. Compensate with other strengths: a. strong academic record; b. glowing letters of recommendation; c. interesting extra-curricular activities; d. a winning application essay; e. a strong college interview.
  4. Explore test-optional colleges
  5. Find schools where your low scores are good

Now we really need to address the topic that seems to get overlooked so often: should all students go to college? Talk to any plumber or electrician, they’ll tell you there’s more work than they can handle because so few young people are going in to the trades. Maybe your student would do better in a machine shop or furniture factory. The point is, we all have a niche, and for many of us, college isn’t one of the choices.

Finally, I have to say that this is the main strength of New England Tutors: It is our job to help get positioned for success in life. Whether that’s academia or the beauty academy, we have shown remarkable success ourselves in accomplishing this goal for our students. Get in touch if you want to learn more about this.

Here are some starter resources:

With over 850 schools of higher education adopting the test-optional policy, there are many more choices now available. In fact, some of the top exclusive schools in the country now do not require a standardized test, such as Bates, Bard, Brandeis, Holy Cross, Columbia, Connecticut College, Wheaton, and many more. And if you want to follow up on the test-optional schools, take a look at these resources:

  1. Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit: Executive Summary
  2. New Survey Shows Record Number Of Colleges And Universities Dropped ACT/SAT Exam Score Requirements In Past Year
  3. Fair or Not – Standardized Testing Required for Most College Applicants
  4. Colleges and Universities That Do Not Use SAT/ACT Scores for Admitting Substantial Numbers of Students Into Bachelor Degree Programs
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