SAT and ACT: Tests Fair For All?

The SAT and ACT have been seen as a requirement for getting into a good college, which brings me to question: is that fair to students?


Matthew Robillard

Test dates for both the SAT and ACT for the rest of the year. There are many test dates for test retakes.

The SAT and ACT.  Did just mentioning that send chills down your spine?

The SAT and ACT are standardized tests used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. If you’re a high school student looking to take the SAT or ACT, you’re looking at a baseline price of $47.50 for the SAT and $50.50 for the ACT. The SAT price goes up to $64.50 if you’re looking to take the optional essay, which in some cases may help your chances of getting into your desired school.

Matthew Robillard
People sometimes compare College Board to the the symbol,”Big Brother” from the novel, 1984.

We all know how expensive college is, not to mention the cost of extracurricular activities and test preparations which are meant to boost your chances of getting into the school of your dreams. The one cost that’s unavoidable is that of college testing. Fee waivers do exist; however, most counselors will suggest taking the test multiple times, which puts low-income families and students in uncomfortable situations.

According to the USDA, of the 50.8 million public school students in the United States approximately 30.3 million of them receive free or reduced lunches. That’s 59.6% of public school students. How can we expect students to be able to pay for important testing that will help determine their future when the majority of students can’t even afford their own lunch? College testing has quickly become a billion-dollar industry that’s dominated by two nonprofit giants, ACT Inc. and The College Board. Both of these companies have been accused of shady practices that allow them to take advantage of their nonprofit statuses to hold a monopoly over the college testing industry.

Matthew Robillard
Although the ACT isn’t as popular as the SAT, it is another way that colleges see your overall student skill level.

From my experiences taking the SAT, it seems like the only thing these standardized tests actually measure is a student’s test-taking abilities. Low-income and inner-city students who can’t afford the extra preparation are automatically less likely to succeed on the test; therefore, less likely to get into the college of their choice. Minorities who don’t speak English fluently, or who have a different first language, are automatically put at a huge disadvantage on the reading and writing portions of the tests. In the most recent college admissions scandal, multiple parents pleaded guilty to paying bribes in order to get their children better SAT and ACT scores. This is just another sad example of how those with a wealthy background are put at an advantage over those who don’t. There’s no reason SAT/ACT test prep shouldn’t be offered to all high school students looking to take the test. For a lot of students, their childhood dreams revolve around going to a good college.

The pressure, and the cost, of standardized testing can make the college application process very stressful and unattractive to students. We should be encouraging all students to go higher with their education and to broaden their horizons. Any student with a high school diploma who wants to follow their passion in life shouldn’t be denied this opportunity because they don’t have the money to get the necessary education.

Everyone should have the opportunity to create the future they want for themselves, the amount of money you have now should never limit what you’re able to do with your future.