Should Colleges Rely on SAT and ACT Scores? NO, Says One Applicant

If you’re a high school senior, or you’ve one in your household, ’tis the season of The Wait to get The Acceptance Letter or The Acceptance Email, and preferably from the colleges and universities that you/your child most wants to go to. And if you’re a junior, or your child is one, life’s a busy blur of worrying over which schools to apply for; AP prep; having just the right portfolio of extra-curriculars/community service/etc.; taking standardized tests, the SAT and the ACT. One high school senior, Allie Kauffman, has not only recorded her dislike for such tests on a video: She has put the video only and included the link in her college application essays.

According to the February 22 Chronicle of Higher Education, Kauffman received a ‘not-so-great-score’ on the PSAT. Her family—her father, Sam Kauffman, is a film professor at Boston University—was able to spend about $800 on a test-preparation course after which Allie Kauffman’s score improved by 300 points—an experience which led her to question the ‘inequity of the whole situation,’ and rightly.

On the video, Kauffman asks, “What if you don’t have the money? Too bad…..You’re competing against kids who do. It’s like playing basketball against kids on ladders.”

Comments the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Mr. Kauffmann says he and his daughter hope the film will convince students and parents that admissions entrance exams are “unfair, biased, and illogical.” To that end, the Kauffmanns have started an online petition urging colleges to stop using the ACT and SAT. They seek 10,000 signatures (as of [February 2] Wednesday evening, there were 206; there are now 244), and plan to submit the final document to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. (The association has about as much power to alter its members’ testing policies as it does to melt all that snow in the Midwest, but never mind.)

Mr. Kauffmann says some of his daughter’s friends have declined to sign the petition for fear that they might harm their chances of getting into college. But Allie’s not exactly bashful: According to her father, she included links to the video in each of the college applications she submitted.

As Kauffman writes on the site of the online petition she has started:
If you’ve visited our website and watched our film at then you know the tests are biased against females, students whose second language is English, against minorities, students who can’t afford quality test prep classes or tutors, and all those students who aren’t good on standardized tests–even though they do great in school. And you know that the SAT Essay section is a complete joke.
The Kauffmans are hardly the first to question the use of standardized tests in college applications. I for one much admire her willingness to inform the very colleges she is applying to about her views on the subject and hope her candor won’t be held against her. I once knew someone who tutored high school seniors on the math section of the SAT and told me that she had figured out how to help a student get an 800: Are standardized tests actually measuring students’ knowledge, or just their ability to score well on the tests?

Go here if you’d like to sign the Kauffmans’ online petition to ‘ACT out against the SAT’ and urge colleges to stop using the ACT and the SAT. 

Photo by -Marlith-


Jo S1 years ago

Thank you Kristina.

ERIKA S3 years ago

thank you

Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago


Stephen Amsel
Past Member 6 years ago

I'm from Quebec so I never took the SAT, but I did take the PSAT (which was compulsory at my high school). I was unaware at the time that there were any SAT-specific training programs. I don't normally test well but I scored 1490 / 1600 and I hear that most people do better on the SAT than the PSAT. I hear that's supposed to be pretty good and, while I did go to a good high school, if I could manage it after only becoming aware of the whole American SAT-system a month in advance, I imagine anyone who really tries can do about as well.

I don't really remember the test too well, but if they are anything like the GREs, then while anyone can do well, I still don't think they should be used. The GREs tested whether a student spoke the specific dialect of the test-writers (GREnglish, not just English). Some of those words mean different things in the rest of the world. Add in the part where somebody checked the grade on the writing-section against the lengths of essays at her school, finding a 100% correlation between length and grade, it looks like the whole thing is generally useless. (The math section on my general GRE was so easy that with a perfect score I got 94th percentile.)

Charles Webb
Charles Webb6 years ago

Plenty of poor kids pass those tests. They work hard. They have the aptitude. They don't need the classes. There are other ways besides classes. You can go to a library and check out books to help you study for SATs. Not everyone is motivated enough. Not everybody is smart enough. College isn't for everybody, even if they think it is. College isn't the end all or be all, either. We still need laborors, we still need people to start businesses. We still need people to scrub the toilets and flip burgers. Anybody can be a success if they want to be. I think there is far too much whining. Life isn't fair. And there has to be some sort of parameters to decide who is eligible and who isn't. Since they can't open your brain and see what's in there, they have a test instead. Why should they have to pass up a brilliant student to take a chance on someone who doesn't make the grade? The requirements are the requirements for whatever field you are going into. Colleges strive to excel too, and a big part of that is turning out exceptional students. If their students are above par, more employers want them and the school builds a reputation that brings in more funds. That's just the way things work.

HannahNoMail H.
Hannah H6 years ago

Interesting; thanks!

Marg Wood
Marg W6 years ago

it also depends on who your parents are! Money and power make a big difference!

Marg Wood
Marg W6 years ago

Tests only show ability to memorize, not intelligence, determination, , creativity or analytical ability!

Louis F.
Louis Fournier6 years ago

Like it or not, people have differing educational abilities ranging from poor to excellent, the same as their abilities in any other human activity. In physical activities, differences are apparent, measurable, and accepted. One quarter-back is better than another; one track star is much faster than another, etc. Some people sing, play music, draw, etc. better than others. In general, additional education, practice, and coaching can marginally improve one's performance, but will rarely transform limited ability into super ability or even average ability. In America, we work to improve educational systems and procedures, facilities, and teachers, but fail to acknowledge that sometimes poor performance or lack of achievement is simply a characteristic of the student (in that area). Educational dollars are very limited. Consequently, they are best spent on students who have a chance of success. We strive to provide a high school education to all, but college educational opportunities are reserved for people with scholastic abilities or aptitude that will likely make them successful. Achievement tests for college-age students are not necessarily the best measure of potential success, but coupled with 12 years of previous performance record through school, they give a pretty good indication. College is not for everyone. There are trade schools, specialty schools in most all areas, athletic opportunities, etc. At college age, it is time to make some real decisions.

Ireven G.
Ireven G.6 years ago

Thank you