Canceling the Essay Portion of the SAT: 3 Reasons to Do It

4/22/2014


Every year, hundreds of thousands of high school graduates scamper to pass the SAT, the results of which spell whether a student will be qualified for going to a university or not. Elaborate and costly preparations are made by students who dream of entering university. One outcome of this is that students from poor families can hardly afford private exam-prep tutoring and even the testing fees and end up getting low scores.


The SAT is a standardized test designed to evaluate a student’s readiness for college work. Results of this test help students decide what course to take and where to enroll in. Applicants for scholarships have to do well in this test to be qualified. There are other admission tests given by the College Board, but so far, the SAT is the most popular in the United States.


However, recent criticism of the sections in the test has brought some drastic changes in the format of the questions included. There are opinions that the assessment tool is biased considering, based on recent studies, that the majority of passers are from white and affluent families. It is noted that in the vocabulary section, some of the words tested are difficult and are rarely used in daily life; many students get low scores because of that. The same is true for the essay section of the test. Just recently, it was decided that the essay part will no longer be compulsory but remained as an additional section for assessment for the admission exams.


Here are 3 top reasons to cancel the essay assessment in SAT:


First, the majority of the students who take the test score low in the essay writing. One of the critics of the writing section considers the topics artificial. The topics do not align with what students learn in high school and what they will learn in college. It seems that as long as students use difficult and rare words, they can pass the test with flying colors. Because of the topics given, only a handful of examinees can ace the test. Students who are less inclined to literary and journalistic prowess appear disadvantaged and their results are strongly affected.

 

Second, some colleges give a writing test to students who seek admission and they regard their own writing as the basis of admission assessment. The essay test given by a school itself focuses more on what the student has learnt in his previous education and what knowledge and skills he is expected to own in order to enter a particular university or college. Therefore, the essay part in SAT is less reliable and not so necessary for such kind of colleges. 

 

Third, there is a general belief that the items in the SAT have to be redesigned to make them relevant to modernization, science, and technology, which are the focuses of many courses in university.


In addition to the essay part becoming optional, other recent developments include the move of the College Board to work with one non-profit academy who will offer review classes for the SAT for free. This will remove the financial encumbrance that poor students have to face when preparing for college admission. Furthermore, no penalty scores will be deducted from the total points for a wrong answer. With these changes, it is believed that the gap between the rich and the poor that the SAT has emphasized will be reduced, if not totally eradicated.


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