Fighting the SAT’s and ACT’s
Although college entrance exams such as the SAT and the ACT are
not state-mandated, they still carry many of the same shortcomings
that high-stakes state tests carry: they’re expensive, irrelevant,
superficial, biased, and over-rated.
Students Against Testing and Fair Test will be kicking off a
campaign to challenge these exams, particularly challenging the
college admissions offices that continue to support the one-score-means-all
approach to college admissions.
The SAT originates from the racist Army mental intelligence
tests of the 1920’s and the early talent searches by Ivy League
universities during the 20’s and 30’s. It is primarily used throughout
the East and West coasts of the country. The ACT, though often
in the shadow of the SAT, is the primary college-entrance exam
for students across the Midwest and the South. It is taken by
over 1 million students each year. Yet both of these exams have
striking similarities when it comes to their effects on students.
Both of these exams:
“If the unhappy day ever comes when teachers point their students
towards these newer examinations, then we may look for the inevitable
distortion of education in terms of tests.” Carl Brigham, director
of the Princeton University Admissions Office in 1926, the year
the SAT was administered for the first time.
- Predict parental income more accurately than anything else
(According to the college board, students taking the SAT will
score an extra 30 points for every $10,000 in their parents’
- Have proven to be consistently biased against females, blacks,
- Value superficial test-prep and coaching programs such as
The Princeton Review and Kaplan in order to succeed, while taking
away time and energy away from real learning.
- Are used by some colleges and universities as the single factor
in determining whether students are admitted or not, and whether
they receive scholarships or not.
Ways to Take Action
Take on the SAT’s and ACT’s at your local college campus - encourage
the admission offices to make these tests optional. There are already
400 colleges and universities that have developed SAT-optional admissions
policies of some sort. Here’s what you can do:
- Spread the word and bring together a group of students, professors,
parents, and citizens who are interesting in ridding their local
college of strict SAT and ACT requirements.
- Come up with flyers and information on how these exams specifically
affect your local college’s potential student body.
- Get in touch with the admissions office of that college, and
try to set up a meeting where that college’s SAT and ACT requirements
can be discussed.
- Emphasize the unreliable, superficial, and biased nature of
the exams, and point to the growing number of 400+ universities
and colleges where they have developed alternative entrance
requirements that do not primarily revolve around single test
Boycott the SAT and ACT
- If you’re a high school student applying to college, consider
boycotting the exams. It’s a way to prove to colleges that you
can be a highly qualified and intelligent applicant without
a single test score to “get you in the door.” Be careful of
which colleges you are applying to and think about how gutsy
you want to be with this – many colleges will not even look
at your application if you don’t have scores on the SAT or ACT.
Follow the Money
- Publicize the corporations and businesses that are getting
rich of the SAT/ACT testing craze. Let the public know how many
millions of dollars The College Board and ETS are making as
a result. Publicize the annual reports of test-prep firms such
as Princeton Review and Kaplan. Even if they are helping students
succeed on a shallow level, they are also preying upon and profiting
from the anxiety frenzy that these tests create.
- Take your exams with style. If there’s no way out of taking the exams that you can see,
at least get creative and let your opinion be heard while you’re
doing it. Hold a press conference the morning of the tests where
students and activists can explain the problems of the SAT’s.
Hold a mini-rally outside your local test-prep firm or college
admission’s office. You get the picture.