19 June 2018
The ACT and SAT: Socioeconomically Biased Tests
A student begins to sharpen his #2 pencils at 8:50 p.m. on a Friday night. He is not out with his friends because he knows how terrifying the next day is. At 9:00 p.m. he does a final check of his TI-84 test-approved calculator before going to sleep. He has to get a good night’s sleep because he knows how crucial the next day is. He wakes up the next day at exactly 6:00 a.m. and begins to get ready by getting a nutritious breakfast and putting on his lucky socks; he has to be ready because he knows how gut-wrenching today is. He does a last-minute study cram session. He has to get every piece of knowledge he can because he knows how important the test is. He arrives early because he knows how important this moment is because he is about to take the ACT. Yet, because of his race and economic background, the cards are stacked against him. The ACT is a discriminatory and biased process that hurts students while still being highly prevalent in college applications. The SAT and ACT tests are promoted as equal representations of a student’s academic success, yet this is not the case as these standardized tests are implemented only for higher income families and deliberately enact on racial discrimination – depicting as being far from the promoted equal design.
Many high school students spend the spring semester of their junior year preparing to take the ACT or SAT. Colleges often use one of these two tests to determine whether to admit the student or to determine how much scholarship money they will award the student. Colleges on the east and west coasts use the SAT while other colleges, mostly in the mid-region of the U.S., use the ACT. The Oxford Dictionary defines the SAT as “a Scholastic Aptitude Test, a test of a student’s verbal and mathematical skills, used for admission to American colleges” (Oxford Dictionaries). The ACT test is defined as “seek[ing] to predict how current students will perform in courses commonly taken by new college students” (Oxford Dictionaries). Based on these definitions, the ACT and SAT are seemed as portraying the same versions of a test which predicts collegiate success but in different ways. The SAT is composed of four sections: reading, writing and language, math (which consists of a section using a calculator and one without a calculator), and the essay section which is optional. The total of points that can be received from the SAT is 1600. Whereas, the ACT includes an English, math, reading, science, and optional writing portion. The total points of the ACT that can be given is 36 points. Generally, the ACT and SAT cover a majority of the same topics, thus most colleges do not prefer one test over the other.
In reference to Brookings.edu of 2017, the SAT, like the ACT, shows that scores are directly related to family income. The more economic abilities of the student’s parents correlate to higher average scores. The SAT and ACT are formed in...