By Boaz Chapman (Junior)
Obama had its in school SAT day for juniors just a few weeks ago, and for many students around the country, the SAT comes hand in hand with one thing: stress. Junior year is commonly called the most difficult year of high school, and it is joked that it is the year everyone gets depressed due to their strenuous workload. It is also the year students are expected to figure out what it is they will do after high school. On top of all this, they are expected to prepare for a test that consists entirely of filling bubbles in for three hours. Much of student stress comes from the immense amount of work needed to prepare for this test, the money required to take SAT prep classes, and the fear that their score may not be good enough or that this test may be the deciding factor of their college acceptance. The SAT has received its criticisms for attempting to reduce a student’s entire academic ability down to a single number. It is for this reason almost every college has made submission of SAT scores now optional when applying. Despite this, it is still the societal expectation for students to take the test and get a high score.
The Eagle Times asked some juniors and seniors at Obama how much they prepared for the test, how much stress they felt, and what score they got if they were comfortable sharing. There was an upward correlation between how much students prepared and what score they received, but stress had no correlation with either prep time or score. Only 22% of students reported their stress levels as less than 5 on a scale of one to ten and no one reported a stress level of 1. This means there were students who did not study and reported high stress levels, and students who studied for a month and reported stress at similar levels. Furthermore, students shared similar feedback about their stress levels despite their scores showing different outcomes. Students universally feel burdened by the pressure of SAT tests.
The SAT most likely is not going away anytime soon, but it is changing. It is scheduled to go completely digital and shorten in length by 2024. Is this enough? The idea of simplifying a students entire academic ability down to a single number is and will remain to be very appealing to many. Most colleges have gone test optional, albeit reluctantly, and many students are taking advantage of that. Obama offers the SAT free to every junior, so if you believe it is to your advantage to take it, take it. However, stressing over it to the extreme will have little to no effect on one’s score. If you think you may stress to a point you are not comfortable with, it may be time to reconsider if taking the test is truly necessary.