Gold Member
Are you guys in favor of keeping it or abolishing it?

Sorry if this is somewhat not related to math/physics but I'm trying to get opinions from both sides for a report.

Seeing as I advocate natural intelligence I am for it. SAT is a good filter which favors either very smart people or those with good work ethic. What is the alternative? Some schools are harsher on grades than others, so one needs a standardized system.

If it continues to stick around I think that the weight that it should have in college applications should be almost none with the exception of a huge outlier (eg a 4.0 valedictorian with a 1700/2400 on the SAT) in which case that should be investigated but if it was abolished all together it wouldn't be much of a loss.

Gold Member
If they get abolished altogether, how about those guys who decide to focus on school and academic related stuff, which leaves them no time for other sports/extracurricular stuff. The SAT is the only way they can distinguish themselves from others. Idk if it's just me, but I'm sick and tired of all these "well-rounded" crap.

I've asked some people, and their reason for wanting to abolish it is that some kids have the "resource - money" to get the necessary training. IMO, money can only get you so far. What about those other kids who DIDN'T pay for it, but are naturally gifted and thus would do well on the SAT. I think that's a bit unfair to them.

I think it should be kept... there is an enormous difference between a 4.0 at a poor public high school taking mediocre classes and a 4.0 taking rigorous courses at a "top" public/private high school....

In my personal experience (being in high school myself) i see a very strong correlation with grades/overall intelligence and SAT scores (with a few exceptions of course).... it seems to be a standard "benchmark" so I don't see why it shouldn't be used...

Pengwuino
Gold Member
I think we should keep it. There has to be something "standardized" to distinguish between the incredible diversity of quality of schools in the world. For the best of the best students, if you have national awards and tons of good extra curricular activities, your SAT isn't going to be terrible and probably not going to make you lose out on a school. If you're a level below the best of the best though you're not gonna have national awards to distinguish yourself and it all comes down to GPA otherwise. You can play the system very easily and achieve a 4.0 with no work and just join a bunch of meaningless clubs and activities. Now if you're even below that, it's nice to have some indicator of possible hidden talent (low GPA due to laziness and apathy or family obligations or whatever that prevent you from having a GPA worthy of your intelligence) that a university could take into account.

I'm very anti-system though in these arguments. I've seen people who are geniuses that had lower GPAs then people who just take the easiest classes possible and ... "know the teachers"... and join a lot of meaningless clubs and associations. The smarter, dedicated people take all AP classes and are in competitions and such and maybe 1 test or one bad teacher gives them a B and on paper, they're seemingly inferior.

I do wonder what a real college admission process looks like though. I've heard at the worst, your application gets 2 minutes of attention...

My main problem with it is that it's gamed by some kids e.g. they hire private tutors and can improve their score by several hundred points in some cases. The end result is that kids who can afford things like that are at an advantage.

Gold Member
My main problem with it is that it's gamed by some kids e.g. they hire private tutors and can improve their score by several hundred points in some cases. The end result is that kids who can afford things like that are at an advantage.

see, I have some beef with that reasoning.

I believe that money can only do so much. No matter how many $you pour on a kid who isn't motivated to learn and isn't interested in getting a good score on the SAT, he's not gonna do well in it. Also, those people who say that the SATs are only about test taking strategies, I don't know what the hell they're talking about. Eliminating 2 out of 4 of the answer choices generally won't land you a good score. Also, those people who say that the SATs are only about test taking strategies, I don't know what the hell they're talking about. Eliminating 2 out of 4 of the answer choices generally won't land you a good score. The "strategies" are all things a child could (and should) figure out, but you wouldn't believe how many kids just can't figure out that it may be a good idea to plug in the answer choices until you get a correct one. If they see something they can't do they just freeze. The strategies are actually new to them and they do help. And it is in your favor to guess if you can eliminate at least one answer choice. It won't matter much, but it helps. Even the math portion of the test is more about reading the question correctly and picking the answer they actually asked for (for example, if x=5 sometimes they'll ask for 3x. Guess what most people circle). Most students can't crack 650 or so even with training, but it's not like a 700-800 means much, considering the test is mainly easy algebra and geometry. The SAT is a good measure of at least some kind of intelligence, but it doesn't impress me in the least when someone says they got an 800 on a section. Also, those people who say that the SATs are only about test taking strategies, I don't know what the hell they're talking about. Eliminating 2 out of 4 of the answer choices generally won't land you a good score. But it does guarantee you a better score hence an advantage, I think it is true that it offers an advantage to the wealthy but it also provides a standard benchmark across all HS so it shouldnt go away though it should not be the be-all-end-all. Last edited: In my personal experience (being in high school myself) i see a very strong correlation with grades/overall intelligence and SAT scores (with a few exceptions of course).... it seems to be a standard "benchmark" so I don't see why it shouldn't be used... Even ETS after much research has not seen such a correlation so either you or ETS is wrong. The only claim ETS has made is that it correlates(not strongly) with freshman grades My main problem with it is that it's gamed by some kids e.g. they hire private tutors and can improve their score by several hundred points in some cases. The end result is that kids who can afford things like that are at an advantage. You can get equivalent improvements by borrowing sat prep books from the library and working through them. I do believe the "standard" exam should exist, and I do think the SAT show that the students with high score are gifted. But what about the students with low scores? Did they get those low scores because they are . . . well, not as gifted as the students with high scores? I did fine on math portion of the SAT (660), but I did poor on the reading and writing sections (490 on reading, 510 on writing), partly because English is my second language. Now, I do realize that this is the "standard" test, and there shouldn't be a compensation like "Oh, well, English isn't his native tongue, so let's add +x points to his scores." And I am also not going to persuade that the SAT is "not fair" for people who don't speak English as a first language. My main concern is that I am not certain about what college admission department thinks of students without an excellent SAT score. Despite my low scores on SAT, I had an excellent GPA with a good number of AP/Honors courses, and I even got 5 on AP calculus, and 4's on AP chemistry, biology, and even US history exams (and I believe the last one requires quite a bit of writings and readings in English). Would college admission team look at my SAT score and automatically assume that I don't have an enough qualification to be admitted to the school, or would they look at some other parts of my application document and ponder what is causing that low score? In short, here's my question: Yes, I think a high score on SAT indicate that the student is gifted, but what about the students who don't score high? Is there a reason to it? Or does that automatically indicate that the student is not gifted? By the way, this is no longer my big concern since this is my second year in my university (although I might be concerned about GRE in near future...). You can get equivalent improvements by borrowing sat prep books from the library and working through them. If you really believe so then you have not paid top dollar for a decent tutor or SAT program. If you really believe so then you have not paid top dollar for a decent tutor or SAT program. Well, err, its not really a question of belif - what I said is what I actually did (borrow books from the library and improve my score considerably). If you really believe so then you have not paid top dollar for a decent tutor or SAT program. I am hard-pressed to agree with this statement. I enrolled in a preparation course by Princeton Review a couple months before the SAT back in high school, and the most valuable thing I got from that course was probably the 10 sample SAT exams book. The actual class was next to useless for me. It all depends on the person and what works for him/her. To me, taking the test again and again was the best way to prepare for the real thing, and I did reasonably well (much better than what I got on the practice tests). If you really believe so then you have not paid top dollar for a decent tutor or SAT program. I worked for Kaplan for almost a year doing private SAT math tutoring. Basically, the parents pay something like$140/hr for 4 or 5 books, instruction, and 3-5 practice tests. All I did was assign homework and then the next time I'd sit next to them and we'd go through the problems together. Most of them went up about 50-100 points in each subject, but that can certainly be done for much cheaper and without a private tutor.

I worked for Kaplan for almost a year doing private SAT math tutoring. Basically, the parents pay something like $140/hr for 4 or 5 books, instruction, and 3-5 practice tests. All I did was assign homework and then the next time I'd sit next to them and we'd go through the problems together. Most of them went up about 50-100 points in each subject, but that can certainly be done for much cheaper and without a private tutor. You are an awful tutor. Kaplan and Princeton Review are ripoffs. I was referring to those who have multiyear private one-one tutoring where you can identify most fundamental weaknesses and work on them exclusively. Individuals who can afford it dont just spackle their weaknesses. Services labeled as SAT prep courses are ripoffs because all they teach are tricks and provide practice problems just like self-study. You are an awful tutor. Thanks! I'm not sure what you think tutoring is, but it's essentially exactly what I described. Kaplan and Princeton Review are ripoffs. Yes, that's exactly my point you dummy. But since you apparently know the secret, effective tutoring programs, then by all means give them your money for your own child and rejoice when s/he gets a whopping 650. Thanks! I'm not sure what you think tutoring is, but it's essentially exactly what I described. The first sign of someone not being good at their job is being complacent and believing their is no room for improvement regardless of occupation, it sounds like your decision to leave tutoring was not misguided. Regardless of program a few months in an SAT program is not going to change years of habits that is why those who achieve an advantage in tutoring are those who can afford multiple years of tutoring to take their mediocre kids and make them top 25 university material. The first sign of someone not being good at their job is being complacent and believing their is no room for improvement regardless of occupation, it sounds like your decision to leave tutoring was not misguided. Maybe you should reread my post from earlier. I clearly said that they DO improve, sometimes up to 100 points per subject area. I also said that similar improvements could be made without the need for an expensive* private tutor. From that you deduce that I'm not good at my job? *And how much of that$140/hr do you think went to me?

From that you deduce that I'm not good at my job?
Nope I deduced it from your belief that this is an example decent tutoring.

I worked for Kaplan for almost a year doing private SAT math tutoring. Basically, the parents pay something like $140/hr for 4 or 5 books, instruction, and 3-5 practice tests. All I did was assign homework and then the next time I'd sit next to them and we'd go through the problems together. *And how much of that$140/hr do you think went to me?
About 20 dollars per hour. Kaplan is a stupid move for both the tutor and student.

Nope I deduced it from your belief that this is an example decent tutoring.

Right. Well, I've had enough of this conversation. I'm sure there are some decent tutors who would gladly take lots of your money for a multiyear program. Because a kid who needs multiple years to answer easy algebra and geometry problems will surely become top 25 university material

Multiyear SAT tutoring program...talk about stupid moves...

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Woah everyone just calm down. There's no need to make this personal.

While multi-year programs that systematically identify and work on weaknesses are good, that can also be done by a determined individual working hard. Very very few kids have the motivation and perserverence to actually do this on their own, which is why the programs can get away with charging so much money. But it can be done on the order of weeks to months.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
Yah that is silly, a multi-year program to cover the material on the SAT? That's ridiculous. If you honestly need multiple years to ace the SAT, you're going to be lagging in other areas of your academic 'resume' which makes this irrelevant to the discussion as a whole.

Right. Well, I've had enough of this conversation. I'm sure there are some decent tutors who would gladly take lots of your money for a multiyear program. Because a kid who needs multiple years to answer easy algebra and geometry problems will surely become top 25 university material

The difference between a student with a 3.7 going to UC Irvine and Berkeley can be a few hundred points.

Multiyear SAT tutoring program...talk about stupid moves...

No multiyear tutoring would be solely focused on the SAT but preparing the student for college. Im not surprised you cannot envision a proper tutoring program. A good multiyear program should not flood a student with information but instead spend the first few months solely on determining a student fundamental weaknesses and making them a strength. After it should spend time on intuition and so called tricks. A student should then be taken to the next step with some exposure to advanced mathematics (just like everyone knows by the time your taking Quantum Mechanics Classical Mechanics is easy). Then after one should return to the previous phase. As well as working on preparing for AP exams/courses because it should be a concerted effort with the student/tutor/parents. This is the type of advantage those who can afford it get as well as the obvious networking advantages for legacy schools.

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
You are an awful tutor. Kaplan and Princeton Review are ripoffs. I was referring to those who have multiyear private one-one tutoring where you can identify most fundamental weaknesses and work on them exclusively. Individuals who can afford it dont just spackle their weaknesses. Services labeled as SAT prep courses are ripoffs because all they teach are tricks and provide practice problems just like self-study.

If someone can afford private one-on-one tutoring for something like the SAT, they can also afford it for their actual courses.

I do think some form of standardized testing is required to weight the GPAs appropriately for students coming from different schools. A 4.0 is not the same at every school, and when you see big discrepancies between SAT and GPA, it should raise a flag to admissions. And, that may not necessarily be a bad flag either. You might have a student who went to a really tough school who has a lower GPA but did very well on the SAT for whom you might want to grant an interview in spite of missing a GPA cut-off.

Though, I'd be happier to get rid of the SAT itself and replace it with just the subject-specific achievement tests. I think those are a bit more indicative of what a student has learned in school than the oversimplified SAT. A school might even opt to still admit a student with lower achievement test scores, but could make the decision to require a remedial course upon admittance, or passing their own exam first.

If someone can afford private one-on-one tutoring for something like the SAT, they can also afford it for their actual courses.
Yes, the advantage for those with money in the process doesnt end at the SAT. For those with the means their smart children go to top 5 colleges, average kids go to top 25 and their retarded got to state school.

I do think some form of standardized testing is required to weight the GPAs appropriately for students coming from different schools. A 4.0 is not the same at every school, and when you see big discrepancies between SAT and GPA, it should raise a flag to admissions. And, that may not necessarily be a bad flag either. You might have a student who went to a really tough school who has a lower GPA but did very well on the SAT for whom you might want to grant an interview in spite of missing a GPA cut-off.

Though, I'd be happier to get rid of the SAT itself and replace it with just the subject-specific achievement tests. I think those are a bit more indicative of what a student has learned in school than the oversimplified SAT. A school might even opt to still admit a student with lower achievement test scores, but could make the decision to require a remedial course upon admittance, or passing their own exam first.
If that situation isnt accounted for graduate school where there are standardized exams that are much more accurate since it test the bare basics (4.0 from colleges with 650 PGRE or lower and 3.5 with 900)how can it be expected for undergrad admissions.

ideasrule
Homework Helper
(Disclaimer: I'm not a professional researcher, just a student who has taken the SAT, so take this post with a grain of salt.)

SAT Reading and SAT Writing reveal nothing about grades or intelligence. They mostly reflect how much a student has read. I've done a lot of reading, and 80% of the questions on the test are intuitively obvious; when I see the right answer, I simply know that it must be right. Explaining why it's right would take several more seconds, which is why 80% of the time, I move on to the next question without explaining to myself why I chose the answer I chose. I can't imagine how anyone can get a good score if, for every question, he has to actually think about what grammar rules to apply or use logic to prove a certain answer correct. Pretty much the only way to get a good mark is to read a lot.

I'm less certain what the math section tests for, but it's certainly not intelligence. For one thing, none of the questions require pattern recognition, creativity, or imagination, even though these skills are essential for science, business, and everything else better than manual labor. Anybody with average (or even slightly below average) intelligence who does the homework questions assigned in school can get a 800. While doing all the homework questions may be indicative of dilligence, dilligence is hardly the most important predictor of success in the real world.

SAT = Scholastic Achievement Test. If you've done more critical reading and/or writing and have applied those skills more, then yes, you will be better at doing that, and you will perform better. Isn't that the point?

Anybody with average (or even slightly below average) intelligence who does the homework questions assigned in school can get a 800.

Then I guess 90% of SAT takers are of significantly below average intelligence and/or don't do homework questions assigned in school.