ACT and SAT are not Indicators for College Success


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By Liz H.

Throughout high school I was very good student. I tried hard in all my classes and made very good grades. Although if you were to look at my ACT score you would not think so. I’ve always been a decent test taker in the past but those tests never compared to the ACT. I cannot sit at a desk for four hours and fill in multiple choice questions while being timed at the same time. For students who are great test takers and can sit still for that long, this is a piece of cake. I know there are many students like me who struggle taking tests like the ACT and SAT. These tests should not be the indicators of our future college success.

If a student makes good grades in high school they will more than likely make good grades in college, regardless of their ACT or SAT score. According to William Hiss, former Dean of Admissions at Bates College, “Research shows that hard work and good grades in high school are what matter most. It’s important to show what you can do over four years, not in four hours on one Saturday morning” (Hiss 23). A good ACT/SAT score can show that you have lots of intelligence and that you received a good education, scores can have different meanings for each student.

There are other was to determine future college success rather than the ACT or SAT. Hampshire College in Massachusetts does not accept SAT/ACT scores from applications. Instead, they look at portfolios and narrative evaluations rather than grades and requirements. Hampshire is listed as one of the top colleges in the nation to have a proportion of its graduates go into graduate school. According to Jonathan Lash, director of the World Resources Institute, “Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry. Multiple choice tests doesn’t reveal much about a student” (qtd. in Strauss par. 10). Not having the Act or SAT, college admissions require letters of recommendation, essays, interviews, and record of their four-year academics.

The ACT and SAT also come with a price tag. Majority of students must pay a fee before taking the test. According to Bob Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, to take the SAT you must pay a fee of $41.50 (Bick par. 5). When I took the ACT, I had to pay around $35 at the time. That’s a lot of money for just one test. If you are like me and have to take the test three times that really starts to put a hole in your pocket. If you want to up your chances of scoring well then you should more than likely take the prep classes or higher tutors. This is where students from low income families are at a disadvantage. For example, Mark Kroese from Washington, spent more than $2,000 on the SAT prep classes, books, and tutoring for his son. With all that help, his son went on to score in the 99th percentile of the SAT and was accepted into his college of choice. If you come from a low-income family there is no way you can spend that type of money for prep. Having money definitely increases your chances of scoring well on these tests.

Many of us may be familiar with test anxiety. I myself am very familiar with this. When I took tests in high school it didn’t bother me as bad, but when I took the ACT my anxiety went through the roof. A few symptoms you experience when this happens is your heart starts to become more rapid, hands get clammy, yours muscles tense and you start to become very anxious. Your mind goes into a mental block and refuses to work. You feel as if you are far away from being prepared to take this test.  “In addition to feeling unprepared, test anxiety may result from concern about how others will view you if you do poorly’ (What is test anxiety? par. 7). People like us put a great amount of pressure upon ourselves to do well. We really are good students but when you put a test in front of us we get psyched out.

I’m not saying that the ACT and SAT are completely useless. For those people who are great test takers the ACT and SAT are great indicators for their future college success. Not everyone are like those people, our brains don’t work the same as theirs. Having letters of recommendations, essays, interviews, and record of four-year academics, is the best indicator if a student will be successful at your college or not. The ACT and SAT have prevented many of us from getting into the college of our dreams. Our potential shouldn’t be determined from one tests.

   Works Cited

Bick, Julie. “The Long (and Sometimes Expensive) Road to the SAT.” The New York Times, The

New York Times, 27 May 2006. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.

Hiss, William C., Wayne Camara. “Should Colleges Stop Requiring The ACT/SAT?.” New York

Times Upfront 146.12 (2014):23. Education Source.

Strauss, Valerie. “What one College Discovered When It Stopped Accepting SAT/ACT Scores.”

The Washington Post, 25 Sept. 2015,

“What Causes Test Anxiety?” What Causes Test Anxiety?,




9 thoughts on “ACT and SAT are not Indicators for College Success

  1. I had good grades and a good ACT score and I feel like I was severely under prepared for college. There should be more than one or two driving factors that decide admittance into a college.

  2. I totally agree with this, they put way too much emphasis on the ACT/SAT to get into college. It is true some kids are just not able to sit at a desk for 4-5 hours taking a test that has such a broad spectrum of questions.

  3. I’m on the same boat as you. I know for for sure there is a better way to handle how we determine the aptitude of future students. Great visual as well!

  4. It makes more sense that colleges should look at your course of work for 4 years of high school with your GPA, rather than one morning of taking a class. I totally agree with you!

  5. I agree that the ACT/SAT are not always the best at determining how well one could do. I feel like my scores didn’t show how well I was really doing. Plus, there were questions on that test that I had never learned about before.

  6. I agree that ACT/SAT is not a good way to judge your education because even my high school head principle had a low ACT score (14) and he still did good in college. Also not all students are in organizations that help them study for ACT/SAT. School should use the 4 year grades because that really shows how hard students work in school.

  7. Liz, I really enjoyed the personal element here. A lot of people never think about how much of a struggle long tests are for some people. Your post sheds light on a topic doesn’t get addressed very much. As you can see from your peers’ comments, many college students share your opinion.

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