SAT: Should You Take It?

27/04/202321 minute read
SAT: Should You Take It?

Whether you're a high school junior getting ready to apply to college or a senior thinking about the SAT for years, you likely have questions about this highly influential standardized test. But should you take it? You may have heard different opinions on this subject, but taking the time to understand what this exam offers will help you decide if it's right for you. With many universities being test-optional, you might be confused further. Here's a closer look at the SAT and the standardized test's role in college admissions.

What is the SAT?

At its most basic, the SAT is a way for colleges and universities to assess your academic abilities and understand how well you'll do in college. But of course, it's much more than that. The SAT is a chance to showcase your intelligence, problem-solving skills, and critical-thinking abilities. It's an opportunity to challenge yourself and see how far you can push your limits. Also, it's the key to getting into the college of your dreams.

The SAT can be intimidating, but with the right mindset and tools, you can confidently approach it and achieve your goals. Don't let the pressure get to you, though - with diligent preparation, anyone can do well on the SAT. It's an exciting opportunity to showcase your academic abilities and set you on the path to your ideal college.

What does the SAT measure?

The SAT consists of two main sections:

  • Math
  • Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW)

The Math section tests students’ understanding of algebra, geometry, and other mathematical concepts, while the EBRW section assesses reading comprehension, grammar, and writing skills.

Recently, changes have been announced regarding the SAT. For the new digital SAT, each section will be further subdivided into two modules, where the second module will be adapted according to how you fare in the first.

  • Module 1 (Fixed): Mix of easy, intermediate, and hard questions
  • Module 2 (Adaptive) Easier Variant: Mix of easy and intermediate questions
  • Module 2 (Adaptive) Harder Variant: Mix of easy and hard questions
US Top 20 Universities Average SAT Scores
UniversityAverage Composite SAT Score
Princeton University1515
Harvard University1530
Columbia University1520
Massachusetts Institute of Technology1545
Yale University1530
Stanford University1520
University of Chicago1545
University of Pennsylvania1525
California Institute of Technology1555
Johns Hopkins University1515
Northwestern University1520
Duke University1505
Dartmouth College1500
Brown University1515
Vanderbilt University1525
Rice University1530
Washington University1530
Cornell University1505
University of Notre Dame1480
University of California, Los Angeles1405

Tips for Scoring Well on the SAT

Try setting benchmarks for your progress when you first start practicing for the SAT. If you're not seeing improvement over time, it might be time to switch up your resources. Remember, everyone learns differently, so don't be afraid to experiment with different study methods to find what works best for you. With a little effort and careful analysis, you'll be on your way to ace that test in no time! Here are a few tips to help you score well on the SAT:

1. Understand the Format

Before starting to prepare for the SAT, it is crucial to understand its format. The test consists of two main sections - Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Each section is scored on a scale of 200-800, with a total possible score of 1600. There is also an optional essay section that is scored separately.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to success on the SAT is practice. There are numerous resources available online and in print, including official College Board practice tests. Make sure to time yourself during practice tests to simulate real test conditions.

3. Focus on Your Weak Areas

Identify your weak areas and focus on improving them. If you struggle with math, dedicate more time to studying math concepts and solving math problems. If reading comprehension is an issue, work on improving your vocabulary and reading skills. You can also take advantage of online resources, such as Khan Academy, which offers free SAT preparation courses.

4. Work on Time Management

Time management is essential when taking the SAT. Answering all questions is not necessary, as the test is designed to be challenging. Focus on answering questions correctly while managing your time. Don't get bogged down on a particular question and waste valuable time. Work on pacing yourself during practice tests so that you have a better understanding of how much time to spend on each question.

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Pros: Why should you take the SAT?

The SAT can open doors you never knew existed! Not only does the SAT measure your aptitude for college-level coursework, but it also provides colleges with a standardized way to compare you to other applicants. This standardized test is the key to higher education, and it could mean the difference between getting accepted into your dream school or settling for your second (or third) choice. Plus, a higher SAT score can even lead to more scholarship opportunities!

- SAT scores impact college admissions

Admissions officers use SAT scores to compare applicants to each other and to the college's standards for academic achievement. A high score can help you stand out in a competitive applicant pool. Also, some colleges and universities use SAT scores to place students in appropriate courses. A high score may allow you to skip introductory courses in a subject area and enroll in more advanced courses instead.

Many colleges take a holistic approach to evaluating applications, meaning they consider many factors beyond test scores. This can include your high school grades, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation, among other factors. SAT scores are just one piece of the puzzle but can provide valuable information about your academic abilities and potential.

- Scholarship opportunities

Many colleges and universities offer merit-based scholarships based on SAT scores. A high score can make you eligible for these scholarships, which can help offset the cost of tuition and other expenses.

Some of the scholarships that require SAT scores include:

  • NJCPA High School Senior Scholarship
  • Charles L. Hebner Memorial Scholarship
  • B. Bradford Barnes Memorial Scholarship
  • Engebretson Foundation Scholarship

There are plenty of scholarship opportunities available for students with exceptional SAT scores. Not only does this allow you to pursue higher education without the added stress of accumulating debt, but it also recognizes your hard work and dedication.

Cons: Why should you NOT take the SAT?

- Narrow Testing Range

The SAT only measures a narrow range of skills and knowledge. While these skills are important for success in college, they may not reflect a student's full range of abilities.

Critics of the SAT argue that relying too heavily on standardized tests like the SAT can disadvantage students who excel in other areas such as the arts, athletics, or community service. Some argue that colleges and universities should consider a broader range of factors when evaluating applicants, such as extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation, in order to gain a more holistic view of a student's talents and abilities.

- Financial burden

The cost of taking the SAT can be a financial burden for some students and their families, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. This fee may be waived for students who demonstrate financial need, but not all students are eligible for fee waivers. In addition, other costs are associated with preparing for the SAT, such as purchasing test preparation materials and taking preparatory courses, which can be expensive.

Alternative Options to Consider

- Take the ACT

The ACT is a standardized test that is similar to the SAT but measures slightly different skills. The ACT is formatted differently from the SAT, which may be advantageous for students who perform better on one type of test versus the other. For example, the ACT has a science section, which may be more appealing to students who excel in science and are looking for a way to showcase their skills.

Some students may find that they perform better on the ACT than on the SAT, so it may be worth considering taking both tests to see which one yields a better score.

- Study a rigorous international curriculum

IB Scores can be a good alternative to the SAT for students who are considering applying to colleges and universities.

The biggest advantage of using IB scores as an alternative to the SAT is that the exams measure a student's mastery of specific subject areas rather than their general reasoning and problem-solving skills. This can benefit students who may excel in specific subject areas but may not perform as well on the more general skills assessed by the SAT.

- Choose a test-optional college

An increasing number of colleges and universities are becoming test-optional, meaning they do not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application. Instead, these institutions may emphasize other factors such as essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. Students who do not feel that their SAT scores accurately reflect their abilities may benefit from applying to test-optional colleges.

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Deciding if the SAT is Right For You

Scoring well on the SAT is possible with the right approach. Remember that the SAT is only one component of your college application, and many top universities take a holistic approach when reviewing applications. Understanding the college requirements, assessing your academic background and strengths, and considering your personal preferences and college aspirations can help you determine if the SAT is right for you.

Take a free practice SAT test to find out where you currently stand. Online Tutoring with Crimson’s expert SAT/ACT tutors can provide you with the necessary practice and test-taking skills to help you achieve a perfect score that stands out.

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