While many teens spent their summer going to the pool or hanging out with friends, I chose to spend my break at a college preparation camp. At Breakthrough Santa Fe, I was surrounded by students who share my goal of attending a four-year university on a scholarship.
Attending a university of my choice has always been very important to me, and from now until the day I graduate, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal.
Although I’m only a high school freshman, I’m worried about applying to universities and all the steps involved — one of which is taking the ACT or SAT. To me, these tests are a determining factor into whether someone is accepted into the university of their choice.
I have always been a straight-A student — the type who gets perfect scores on her exams. I guess you could say I’m an overachiever. However, the thought of taking one test to determine my future education absolutely terrifies me.
Of course you can take the tests more than once, but the tests are expensive. They are hard, stressful and often take months to prepare for. To no surprise, retaking either exam is not an ideal option.
I plan to take the practice SAT (PSAT) next year as a sophomore. I’ve heard the more times you practice the SAT, the better your score will be on the real thing. But beyond a PSAT and studying, there’s not much else that one can do to prepare.
To be honest, the idea of covering every topic learned in high school sounds nearly impossible. That’s way too much content to stuff into one test!
What about standardized testing? Since the third grade, I have taken many standardized tests. You’d think they’d be helpful in preparing me for higher-level exams such as the SAT or the ACT. Honestly, however, they don’t. I sometimes wonder if they’re even harder than the SAT or ACT, since they ask questions about subjects not covered during the year.
Many factors can contribute to a student’s test score. Maybe they’re having a rough day. Maybe they don’t work well under pressure or within a limited time frame. Whatever the reason, I don’t think a single test score qualifies a student’s academic capabilities.
I think it’s time universities stop looking at applicants through their test scores, and instead view them as the whole person they are. There’s a lot more to a high school graduate, beyond numbers and letter grades.
Valeria Ramirez is a freshman at Santa Fe High. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.