SAT: Save Alligators Today?

what's the SAT mean to tahomies?

Murou Wang, Writer

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Everyone hears of the big test supposedly determining the colleges a student can go to, but what actually is the SAT? SAT stands for the Scholastic Assessment Test and is offered by high schools for students, who are seniors most of the time.

There are two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. Each section is scored from a 200 to 800 scale with 1600 being the highest cumulative score a student could get. There are a total of 171 problems (96 Reading and Writing and 75 Math) with 3 hours to complete. An essay portion is optional; some colleges require it and would be just a plus for others. The test is a sprawling mass of everything high school students have learned in their career.

So why spend the time taking and preparing for this test? SAT prep teacher Ms. VanHoomissen says that “[the SAT] is kind of a great equalizer. Let’s say two students have the same academic history, the same GPA, and all the same extracurriculars. The SAT is a way of separating people into different categories [for colleges].” Senior Hitesh Boinpally, a National Merit Semi-Finalist, adds that “The SAT is important for helping students get a chance to prove themselves to colleges outside of their GPA. Also, it gives students a way to measure themselves and is key to helping get into good colleges.”

That’s a summary of the SAT, but how in the world can anyone study for a 171 problem test? The thing is, by the time most students take it, they already have; the SAT problems use the cumulative knowledge students learn throughout high school, so they already have most of the needed information stored in their brains. Senior Laena Tieng, another  National Merit Semi-Finalist, says that “[she] studied outside of school but a lot of what [she needed to know she] learned in school.” Boinpally took a different route in which he “practiced a lot for the test” by “using Khan Academy, as well as outside tutoring services to try and make [his] score as high as [he] believed [he] could. Both did very well on the SAT, which means that different ways to study work for different types of people. Besides, if a score is not up to par, the SAT is available to retake as many times as needed.

School often gets students caught in the mindset that if they don’t get a good score on a couple of tests, they’re ruined for life. While the SAT isn’t anything to sniff at, it also isn’t the end of the world if a score isn’t what certain colleges want. Some students are just not great test takers. Remember: everybody is a real person, not just their SAT score.