Home Opinion Staff Editorial: What’s wrong with SAT preparation and how to fix it

Staff Editorial: What’s wrong with SAT preparation and how to fix it

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The current SAT textbooks used to prepare students
Credit: Ruby Williamson, 42Fifty

This editorial reflects the official opinions of 42Fifty’s 2022-2023 editorial staff. For more information on staff editorials, please see our editorial policy.

With the importance of the SAT on the decline and student stress on the rise, Oswego High School administration needs to change how it prepares students. The administration needs to shift its focus from stressing the importance of the SAT to instead better preparing students for college admission and stress management. 

“The school only addresses stress as a problem,” junior Vincent Bilbo says, “but never assess[es] the problem which can overall make stress worse.”

The importance of the SAT when applying to colleges and universities has declined in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and admission counselors from most schools are waiving the requirement for students to record their SAT score on college applications. 

In an article by The Washington Post, they share that of the 850 schools that are partnered with The Common Application, only 5% of the member schools were requesting scores in 2021-2022, compared to 55% in 2019. This huge decrease is a clear indication that the OHS administration needs to rework how it presents the SAT to students and rather focus on students’ admissions and stress.

The current system of preparing students for the SAT includes a SAT prep elective course and after-school programs such as Excel Edge. There are also PSATs that freshman, sophomore, and junior classes take throughout the year to better their SAT skills and knowledge. However, not only are the scores often not required for college, but the preparation that is open to students is not as effective, and therefore should focus on the root skills that will lead to more success. The skills students lost in the pandemic are shown in last year’s PSAT scores, proving there needs to be a change in how students are prepared for the SAT.

Average SAT scores from 2021 form Illinois Report Card:

Credit: Riley Bober, 42Fifty

Student performance on ELA portion of SAT in 2021:

Credit: Riley Bober, 42Fifty

Student performance on math portion of SAT in 2021:

Credit: Riley Bober, 42Fifty

With the lack of preparation offered to students who don’t have these options, stressed students  have been led to believe that these SAT scores will make or break their future. Administrators need to break the misconception that SAT scores are the most important factor in college admissions, considering that most schools favor GPA and leadership positions in admissions decisions. 

Instead of portraying the SAT as a test to get into college and placing so much stress on students to earn a high score, the administration should focus on rebuilding the skills students lost from the pandemic and support their mental health more closely. These skills that need improvement include time management, organization, and socialization skills. 

As students strengthen their skills lost in the pandemic and learn how to manage their time and stress, they can then go back to focusing on preparing for the SAT if it is required for college. At this very moment, it often is not, and therefore other skills should be focused on. However, if the SAT comes back in the future as a frequently used tool for college placement, then teachers and administration should focus more on preparing students for it.

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Student Publication of Oswego High School, Oswego, IL

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