SAT and ACT Turn Students into Robots

The SAT and ACT are crucial determinants for most students because they function as a summary of academic abilities, which are then used in the decision process for colleges. The only problem with this system is that anyone can get a perfect score. These two tests both include an essay, math sections, writing and grammar sections and reading sections. The ACT also includes a science section. Within all of these sections are patterns and trends that can be learned and repeated, which leaves very little room for creativity. In essence, students only have to learn the “process” that is applicable to each problem in order to get a perfect score.

In some ways, the process does show colleges what they are looking for. But it is more telling of their work ethic as opposed to their natural abilities. Every now and then, there is a brilliant student who can get a perfect score on the SAT/ACT without doing any prep whatsoever; however, typically the edge is given to the students who put in the most time. And by “time,” I mean doing the same types of problems over and over until they become ingrained in the student’s brain. Once a student learns the different types of problems and how to approach all of them, taking the SAT/ACT becomes a mindless copy-and-paste task.


Junior Elizabeth Hawn is hard at work, trying to perfect her ACT score. Photo: Andy Bainton

The only area which requires true creativity is the essay portion; but even this part can be consistently mastered using strategy. There is a list of quotes by famous athletes/actors/politicians, etc. that are applicable to all essays and allow for a strong thesis and supporting evidence to be made. The “New SAT” will be taken by sophomores next year, and it will be interesting to see if anything changes. As for now, the college board has some work to do.