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The Most Important Test: The SAT

A Historical Look at the Test We All Know

December 10, 2020 12:07 PM
Many students, like this one, get extremely frustrated in their SAT prep (jeshoots/Unsplash)
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Note: This story was originally produced over a month ago. Information, dates, predictions, and other details may be outdated.

The SAT is an incredibly important test that is taken by any student who plans to attend college or university. Essentially, it is an entrance exam that is used by colleges to help them decide whether they will allow a student who is applying the college in. The test plays a very important role in this decision.

The SAT’s purpose is to measure a student's knowledge and how ready they are to attend college. It can also be used as a point-of-reference for colleges to compare and examine all their applicants—in addition to a student's GPA, classes passed, letters of recommendation, personal essays, and extracurricular activities. This means that the higher you score on the SAT, the better you look in the eyes of the college/universities you are trying to impress. Your score also improves your odds of getting certain scholarships, which help those planning to attend greatly. While it is not a graduation requirement to take the test and get a specific score, it is still very important in helping to shape a student’s future, thus it is highly recommended that you take it.

A student intently completes a practice exam, a strategy many use to ace the SAT (Ben Mullins/Unsplash)

The SAT is divided into several parts: math, reading and writing, and an optional essay portion. Each section is taken in one single sitting and takes a grand total of three hours to finish, with an extra 50 minutes if you take the essay portion. Each section is timed differently:

  • Reading: 35 Minutes
  • Writing: 45 minutes
  • Math: 80 minutes
  • Essay: 50 minutes

For a student to qualify for the SAT, they must be at least 16 years of age. Usually, the test is taken during one’s junior or senior year of high school. While it may differ in other areas, SCHS pays for the student's test, but only the first time it is taken. If you wish to retake the test, you must pay for it yourself, which is usually about $49, or $64 if you also choose to take the essay portion. One of the SAT’s best features is that it can be retaken as many times as possible with the colleges only looking at your best achieved scores instead of every single score you got. Despite how good this is for students, there has been a surprisingly large amount of controversy surrounding this decision.

The SAT was created to help streamline college admission procedures as well as create more opportunities for people to attend college. It was originally meant to be used by the military to help with them recruiting people for their ranks during the 1920s. It would go on to eventually become the SAT and began to be used by colleges rather than the military. The test was created and reinstated in August of 1941 and has evolved many times since its inception. An example of this is the removal of antonyms on certain parts of the test tin order to keep the vocabulary simpler, more open-minded math questions for students to answer, as well as revisions to the written passages to attempt to make them more accurately reflect the material that will be encountered in college course classes.

Another change was made in 2005 in which analogies were removed as it did not accurately reflect the test taker’s knowledge. The math section of the test was also expanded to include more Algebra 2 material. Furthermore, the writing portion was not always a part of the SAT and was added later to make up for the fact that the test could not accurately measure every single skill that students should be tested on. These are just a few changes made to the test, but there has also been changes made to how the test is scored.

The way in which the SAT is graded has seen many changes throughout the years. When the test was first created, it was not even expected of students to complete it. The current version of the SAT sees a maximum of 1600 potential points for a student to score, with each section having 800 total potential points. This replaces the former system which saw a grand total of 2400 possible points for students. Each section is graded the same, as it is all multiple choice besides the essay portion. The essay portion is graded based on the ideas a student writes, how they accurately represent those ideas, their grasp on the language they are writing in, etc.

The SAT is a very intimidating and expansive test that dictates a lot of your future—such as what opportunities you will be given—and it can really affect your life. However, it is important for students who plan on taking the test to keep a level head and to just do their best on the test.

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