You know the most frequent question that I get asked by students preparing for the SAT? “Why does this matter? Its just a silly test! It doesn’t measure how good of a student I will be or how smart I am.”
The simple response to this question is that this is a valid criticism. It really is! The SAT does not measure the merit of a student, but other things are also true. Namely, the SAT can help you get into college, and it should be treated as a tool to accomplish this goal.
It can be extremely tempting to look at any established system, such as college admissions, and critique their various imperfections. We are a culture that values justice, and systems that are infallible. This is not always the most effective way to look at a system. I am not lambasting the eternal re-evaluation of established principals and the slow march toward a better tomorrow, but sometimes it is worthwhile to take a step back and look at a system and figure out how it was designed and how you can work within the design to accomplish your personal goals.
The SAT is a test that is prominently considered in determining admissions to a college, and the SAT, like performance in school and extra curricular activities, is a combination of propensity and preparation. For most people, truly exceptional SAT performance requires hours of study and practice. Through this study and practice, the SAT can become an impressive portion of your college admissions portfolio. Unlike performance at school and extra curricular activities, however, the SAT can be effectively prepared for in a matter of months.
The SAT is not an IQ test, nor is it a measure of your ability to perform in the long run at college or beyond; the SAT is used for admissions, and if you take the time to figure out how to take the SAT, how to attack the different types of problems, and how to use all the skills that are tested to perform at your highest capacity, the SAT can turn from an arbitrary, silly test, to a valuable tool to help be admitted to the college of your choice.
So, take a step back and consider your SAT options. Once you take time to prepare for the SAT, a good score will help you tremendously in college applications.
David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy.