Parents and students typically bemoan the test prep process. It takes dedication of time and effort to raise standardized test scores into the competitive range for selective universities. Colleges make admissions decisions based off of SAT and ACT because the scores are closely tied to students’ success in college and beyond.
“Do I really need to know nit-picky grammar rules and coordinate geometry formulas to succeed in college?” my students ask me. The answer is a resounding no. They don’t. But they will have to rapidly absorb large amounts of information and apply it to papers they write and tests they take.
What matters about the SAT and ACT is not actually what’s on the test, but whether students have the ability to learn how to take the test. The intense time pressure, tricky multiple-choice format, and unfamiliar content is purposeful. What these exams actually measure is whether a student can adapt to a new and unfamiliar challenge with a methodical problem-solving approach and inner resolve. Success on the SAT and ACT means that a student can stay motivated in the face of setbacks, learn from mistakes, and align performance to a new set of standards. Those are invaluable skills that will serve students throughout their academic and professional careers.
To read more about the significance of SAT and ACT test scores, click here to access an insightful article recently published in the Wall Street Journal. I hope that once students realize what is asked of them on these tests, and why scores matter, they will have the motivation to add test prep into their summer schedules and invest in a process with real world payoffs.