By Malloy Moseley
Every year, more than two million students take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). However, amongst the students in the graduating class of 2012, proficiency in reading and writing is the lowest it has been in 40 years.
In addition, while the SAT is designed to test a student’s preparedness for college, information released by the college board shows that only 43 percent of the students who took the test are ready for college-level courses. The Board’s figures are based on the idea that students who are prepared will average a B- in their freshman year. The statistic implies that the majority of students are not good test takers, not performing well on their SATs or are unprepared to achieve average marks as they continue to an institution of higher learning.
On average, about 44 percent of high school students will move on to universities, leaving a small percentage of students who will go to college unprepared, and thousands of others who might have a lower chance of admission due to low test scores.
While there hasn’t been a dramatic drop in scores over the past few years, they are gradually decreasing over the decades. Depending on how one sees it, either the knowledge expected from high-schoolers has greatly increased, or average test-taking ability has slowly decreased from generation to generation. In the U.S. last year, 360 students earned a perfect score of 2400.
In the wake of lower SAT scores, more students nationwide are taking the American College Test (ACT). For a while, many schools would only accept the SAT on applications, but now almost all universities across the United States will take scores from either or both of the assessments. While the SAT was once the most-taken aptitude examination, the ACT edged it out this past school year.
Here at Cleveland, this year’s college-bound juniors will make preparations to take one or both of these tests soon, if they have not already. These statistics may seem overwhelming to some, and cause confusion as to which test a student is most likely to do well on, but they are no reason to worry.
Cleveland’s college counselor, Sharon Drell, weighed in on the matter. She is “certainly advocating for the ACT,” as many students tend to overlook it in favor of the once pre-eminent SAT. While the ACT used to be taken mostly by midwesterners, its scope now reaches across the nation. Students should not be worried about whether or not the ACT will be taken into consideration in their application, as Drell said, “most schools accept either or.”
The rest, according to Drell, is a matter of the particular skill levels of the individual student.
“The SAT tends to be more reasoning-based; you have to know one thing to know something else. The ACT is more curriculum-based and tends to be easier for most students,” Drell said.
In order to succeed to the best of their abilities, students should study hard and take the test they believe they will have the best chance of scoring higher on.