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Maegan Villarreal

Mr. Munoz
English DC 1301
15 December 2014
The Test That Tells the Future
Sweaty hands, stressful minds, and anticipation all marks the faces of most high school
students who sit and await for their given administrator to hand them the test and explain all the
basic instructions that have been heard so many times before through the other standardized
tests taken throughout grade school. This test on the other hand is different; it is the SAT. Thirty
kids sit in a room, all with the same common goal; to make a 2400 on the SAT if at all possible.
The SAT is a college entrance exam that tests each student's "common knowledge". For most,
the SAT is a determining factor for each student's admission to their college of choice. Some
students are more prepared than others having taken prior tests, hours of studying, and other
advantages that will make the SAT less of a struggle. The SAT should not be a determining
factor for college entrance because it has many unfair disadvantages.
Overall family income is one of the disadvantages the SAT holds. It is proven that those
who come from a wealthier family score higher on the SAT. Those who came from the
wealthiest families scores around 400 points better than those who came from the poorest
families in 2014. The college board became aware of this disadvantage and plans to offer
tutoring to those who cannot afford it. While this sounds like a promising solution, tutoring was
shown to only improve test scores from 20-23 points. Those whose families made an income of
0-80k scored below the national average while those whose income was of 90-200k all
surpassed the national average. This again proves that the SAT scores can be determined by
the amount of income a family makes. Although money doesn't necessarily buy the SAT scores,
it can buy an education. Those with more money tend to lean towards nicer neighborhoods
where the education system surpasses those of lesser income. According to the Wall Street
Journal, when the SAT is crucial to college, college is crucial to income, and income is crucial to
the SAT. This cycle have been developed throughout decades and cannot be easily broken.
Another cycle that is often even harder to break or change is a student's family
background. Income does not necessarily have to be a direct effect of what SAT score a student
may receive but in most cases those whose parents have a large income, have a good
educational background as well. Those whose parents have a good educational background
also have an ideal living environment that allows them to perform well and succeed more. A
student whose parents argue constantly, is given no motivation, and is ultimately surrounded by
negativity which often times effects the students work in school as well as on standardized tests,
will score poorly as opposed to those in a good living environment. These living environments
may be another contributing factor to show how unfair the SAT is, but that can always be
changed by one who sets out to break the cycle that was previously talked about. With that
being said, one of the other unjust components of the SAT cannot be broken, no matter how
hard one may try.
Ethnicity is a controversial factor that makes the SAT unfair. Educational organizations
as well as civil rights groups have all agreed that the SAT favors Whites as well as Asians while
disadvantaging all other races. Recently, in New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C., there
have been complaints that kids in the school system who take the SAT and other standardized
tests are being deprived of elite education due to the fact that school spend on a test that favors
one ethnicity over another. A new study suggests that some of the questions on the SAT are in
fact bias to white as opposed to blacks. This study was based off of questions in the SAT called
DIFs, more formally known as "differential item functioning". These questions suggest that those
who have a similar educational background and knowledge, should get similar scores. For
example, they found that on the easier verbal questions on the test, the white students all
scored the same, whereas on some the harder questions, the blacks all scored the same.

Studies suggest that this is the easier questions are based off of cultural expressions that are
used in the dominant society in America, which is white. Therefore the harder questions are
expressions that are to be learned, not absorbed in the process of growing up. These unfair
disadvantages are something that cannot be prevented through tutoring, or studying.
While prepping for the test may seem like a solvable answer, stress is something most
students face when going into the SAT. Society puts a large emphasis on the importance of the
SAT. Considering that the SAT is one of the main factors of acceptance to an institution of
choice, the SAT score may indeed entail a student's future. Last year 60 percent of the students
who had an A+ average in school who took the test were girls. While this stands true, another
shocking statement does as well. Boys who took the national test out scored the girls. This is
because girls' anxiety compared to the boys are twice as likely. A study was conducted that
proved the higher your stress level is while taking the test results in a lower score. Reducing
stress as well as anxiety will better test scores. One study proved that stress was a determining
factor in the SAT through the effect of beta blockade on stress-induced cognitive dysfunction in
students who took the test. The study gave students 40 mg of propranolol before taking the
exam. Propranolol is a prescription drug used to treat high blood pressure, migraines, irregular
heart beat and chest pains. It is used commonly among actors and actresses that encounter
stage fright. Once the students took the medication, they were then given the SAT. After
calculation, the students significantly scored better having taken the medication when compared
to the test scores they had taken without. This proves stress does effect the outcome of any
given test.