Do You Think the SAT/ACT is an Accurate Representation of Your Abilities?


Lily Tierney

Study tools for the ACT and SAT

“Stop. Put your pencil down. Close your test booklet.” Any student who has ever taken the SAT and/or ACT is familiar with these daunting words. Taken by high school students across the nation, standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT are used in order to measure their capabilities. These standardized tests are seen to have many positives and negatives effects. Across the board, many high schoolers believe these tests are not accurate representations of their academic abilities.


There are various reasons as to why these standardized tests are defective portrayals of a student’s academic abilities. Xavier Academic Counselor, Kathleen Gannon, stated that standardized tests are not “necessarily a true reflection of a student’s success in life. There are so many other aspects in a person.” Senior Talle Donley also agreed with this statement by saying, “I don’t think it’s an accurate representation at all. I have a 4.0 GPA. I work hard everyday studying for tests, doing homework and learning how to be a humble person in this crazy world.” But, she says she has “never been good” at taking standardized tests “because it stresses [her] out.”


The first downside of standardized testing is that there are only a few SAT and ACT’s per year. This does not give students many chances to take these tests. Students are able to prepare for these tests year round, but there are not enough opportunities to utilize their standardized test taking skills. Although the SAT and ACT are similar each time a student takes it, there are noticeable differences in each test. Some standardized tests are more difficult than others, creating unequalness across the nation. Also, some of the SAT and ACT tests are curved more than the other tests. The SAT and ACT are curved based on the scores students achieve, and it all depends on the specific group of people taking this scheduled test. The SAT and ACT also cause huge amounts of stress for students across the world. Stress on the day of a 4-5 hour tests causes scores to drop. One of the main reasons why the SAT and ACT are not accurate representations of a student’s academic abilities is because different schools teach different things. In 1988, the national curriculum was created and it was very consistent. This curriculum was more of a prescriptive approach then a suggestive one. Most schools require teachers to stick to their curriculums, and this prevents leeway for teachers to teach outside of the curriculum. All of the content on standardized tests are not fully covered in regular high school classrooms, so teachers that stick very strongly to the curriculum do not cover all the content on the SAT and ACT. This factor causes many disadvantages because students all around the world learn different things, and some students have a bigger advantage and more knowledge than other high school students.


Contrary to the reasons as to why the SAT and ACT are not accurate representations of a students academic ability, there are many people, including colleges, that believe these standardized tests are able to represent a student’s abilities. the SAT and ACT are the only standardized tests that colleges require, therefore, there are only two to choose. In theory, these standardized tests should be the same difficulty, hence the name “standardized tests.” Agreeing that standardized tests are the same difficulty, Senior Kerin Olsen says that “as a general admission test for many colleges of America, I think these standardized tests serve that purpose well.” These tests are able to measure the basic knowledge of a student and a school. Although many people believe that the SAT and ACT are inaccurate because they only measure academic abilities, it is still important for colleges and other institutions to try and measure where a student is academically. Standardized tests allow students to demonstrate themselves past just grades. Another reason as to why the SAT and ACT are beneficial is because it is able to reveal to a student the areas that they are struggling in. Senior Tessa Tierney, who has already taken three ACTs said that “they are an accurate representation in some of the subjects. My reading score was a 35, and my ACT totaled up to a high score.” There are many reasons as to why the SAT and ACT are accurate and inaccurate representations of a student’s academic abilities.


Most people who were interviewed agreed that the SAT and ACT are not a complete accurate representation of a students academic abilities for various different reasons. The SAT and ACT are used for broad judgement to compare different schools, teachers, and students. These tests originally were supposed to see if students reached a certain performance level in school and if they attained the proper knowledge from high school, but these reasons are now morphed into wrong, unfair reasons. Nowadays, colleges consider students based off of their test scores, and students are now evaluated for the wrong reasons. Throughout the nation, many students believe they are more than just a test score and want to be given a fair chance for their future, not considered based off of a standardized test score. Senior Makynlee Schmidt stated, “I want to be given a fair chance for my future. I don’t want colleges to consider me just based off of my standardized test score. I am more than just my test score.”