What in the World are the SAT and ACT Tests?

And How are Students Being Prepared for Them?

Jozlyn Jorgenson, Staff Writer

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Given yearly to juniors, and a cause of stress within schools, the SAT and ACT tests mean a lot. When applying to colleges your scores on these tests greatly influence whether or not you will be admitted.

What are they, and why are they important?

To freshman Abby Huonder, these tests show how, “… smart you are in fields like math and english,” and they “Get you a better career in life.” 

Ana Garcia, a junior, says that these tests “… show if you’ll pass the class or not” in college, and also are a cause of anxiety in her student life.  When talking about them, she says that these tests aren’t “the best way to show where you are” when it comes to education and knowledge.

For Grace Jardine, a senior that’s already taken these tests, they show only a narrow range of what colleges should be looking for in their students’ lives, and that they should be looking more at grades and extracurricular activities instead of just standardized test scores. In her opinion, colleges should be looking at the student as a whole, and not just a few numbers.

To teachers like Stephen Krupansky, these tests are “College and career readiness” that gauge “How successful you’d be after high school.”

But, what are the SAT and ACT tests really?

Both the SAT and ACT are standardized college application tests. More specifically, the SAT is an aptitude test, intended to see how much potential students have for learning, while the ACT is a knowledge test, seeing what students actually learned in school. It is with these standardized tests that states measure how well districts and schools are educating the students.

So why are these tests important? 

How a student scores on these tests greatly influences if a college will accept their application. On top of that, students can receive scholarships depending on how well they score, saving thousands of dollars in fees, which is no small thing, seeing as fees can range from $9,000 to $35,000, depending on the college. 

For high schools, these tests help them with funding. The better students perform on these tests, the more funding the government allocates to them. Schools that constantly fail to meet state education standards on these tests lose funding and grants to certain areas, causing the school to suffer.

To teachers, students’ scores on these tests reflects how well they do their job.

The big question is, how are students being prepared for these tests?

Specifically at Erie High School, a PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) is administered annually, as well as two practice PSATs, allowing students to get used to taking this test, to take away some anxiety, and to help them find what areas the student is struggling in and work on them. The school also provides an SAT prep class which helps students prepare for the SAT. 

When it comes to the classroom though, things are a bit different.

In some classes, such as Mr. Krupansky’s math classes, warm-ups include past SAT questions, each of which must be completed within one minute, and in Mrs. Martin’s english classes, students get daily SAT questions which they go over and learn the reasoning behind the answers. But in other subjects like Mr. Graff’s government classes, the ways in which students are prepared is more abstract, where instead of SAT practice questions, students are given complex texts that they must analyze.

While they may not always seem beneficial, the SAT and ACT tests are an important part of a student’s career and are crucial to the schools. Because of the impact of these tests, students are being prepared in a variety of ways, but how students accept this given preparation is entirely up to them.