College Board’s plans to revamp the SAT to focus more on the core knowledge and skills that prepare students for the rigors of college will be beneficial for applicants, some Boston University students said.
Caitlin Fichtel, a College of Communication sophomore, said the SAT has become an “elitist situation,” and success on it has a great deal to do with the type of tutoring one can afford.
“It [the test] becomes an issue [of] how good people are at taking the test, and I don’t think it bases anything on knowledge,” Fichtel said. “Also, some people just tend to test better than others.”
Making the SAT more representative of the core classes students take in high school, such as science, history and straightforward mathematics, would make the test more effective, Fichtel said.
College Board President David Coleman sent an email to his employees Tuesday announcing the organization is looking into ways to change the SAT to better reflect the demands of higher education.
“We will develop an assessment that mirrors the work that students will do in college so that they will practice the work they need to do to complete college,” Coleman said in his email.
No specific plans have been announced, but changes will likely be concentrated on the writing section, Coleman said.
“An improved SAT will strongly focus on the core knowledge and skills that evidence shows are most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career,” Coleman said in his email. “… We will develop an assessment that mirrors the work that students will do in college so that they will practice the work they need to do to complete college.”
High school students examine the average SAT scores of a college’s student body to gauge whether they have a chance at being accepted, said BU spokesman Colin Riley.
He said SAT scores do not necessarily determine a student’s acceptance to BU.
“We look at the students in a holistic way,” Riley said. “We don’t look at them in a single dimension … The most important thing on an application is your academic transcript —what courses you took at what rigor.”
Several institutions’ admissions officials have ruled out standardized tests as a mandatory part of their applications, Riley said. Although BU may one day eliminate the standardized test from their application process, admissions officials still find some predictive value in high SAT scores.
Standardized tests do not undermine the other factors within a student’s application, such as transcript, service and involvement, Riley said.
“BU gets such a strong applicant pool because kids who are looking at the Ivy League [schools] also consider BU,” Riley said. “… However, we don’t want to accept a student who is not a good fit because they will not have a good experience.”
Joel Scott, a School of Education professor, said in an email that the SAT is not designed to measure certain factors of student success such as creativity, emotional intelligence and other non-cognitive competencies.
“The challenge for schools that are considering alternative options, high school portfolios, projects [or] alternative essays, is the time and human resources that are needed to effectively process applications,” Scott said.
A number of students said they do not believe the SAT was a good indicator of their potential, because they had to specifically learn how to take the test rather than utilize the knowledge they gained while in high school.
“The SAT focuses more on people test-taking abilities rather than actual intelligence,” said Max Laroch, a College of General Studies sophomore. “Some people are just not good at test taking, even though they may be smart enough to get into a better school.”
Timothy Lagos, a COM freshman, said he thinks the ACT better represents the intelligence of the applicant than the SAT.
“I had to learn how to take the SAT and it was based on strategy,” Lagos said. “The ACT topics were a bit easier because they were definitely a lot more representative of the topics I learned in high school.”