Editorial: Limiting SAT/ACT retakes

  With college application deadlines approaching quickly, seniors nationwide are scrambling to polish off their applications.  This could entail anything from trying to boost their grades in order to maximize their GPAs, to revising their personal essays.  Many seniors may also be studying to take one last standardized test, such as the SAT and ACT, with the goal of raising their score.

       Both the SAT and ACT are offered seven times every year, offering students with the opportunity to choose when they would like to take the test and study accordingly.  Many students choose to take these standardized tests until they are content with their score, and it has become increasingly popular to work with a tutor or take a review class during the months before taking the exam.

      However, not all students are fortunate enough to have the money to get this extra help, or even to take the test multiple times.  With the essay section, the SAT and ACT both cost over $60 to take each time, which is not affordable for many lower-class families.  Students should not be put at a disadvantage because their parents cannot pay for them to take the test multiple times.  Even if the testing fee can be paid, not everybody can afford to pay hundreds of dollars weekly on a private tutor or review class.  This creates a distinct advantage for wealthier students, who may not even perform better in their classes in school.

     Although there is a fee waiver offered for both of these tests, there are shortcomings.  Test waivers do not cover changes in test registration in regards to the date and location.  

       The whole point of having standardized testing is that students everywhere in the United States are being looked at on the same scale.  The fact that some students have access to opportunities that others do not defeats the purpose of offering standardized tests.  

       Another problem with the SAT and ACT is that students can retake the tests until they are satisfied with the scores they received and confident sending them to colleges.  Allowing students to take the test, see what they did wrong, and try again as many times as they would like makes the whole system more focused on strong test-taking skills and preparedness than actual knowledge and intelligence.

        A growing number of colleges, including the prestigious University of Chicago and George Washington University, have acknowledged that the SAT and ACT put students who cannot afford tutors or to take the test multiple times at a clear disadvantage.  These schools, among many others, are now “test-optional,” meaning that they do not require standardized testing scores for admission.  However, students who submit scores are still given an advantage in the admissions process.  Thus, the only way to prevent students who are in a more comfortable economic situation is to limit the number of times these tests can be taken. 

      By limiting the amount of times a test can be retaken, the scores would be more representative of actual knowledge and capability, rather than test-taking strategies and well-preparedness for these exams.  This will  level the playing field for students who cannot afford expensive tutors or retakes, creating a more balanced system which emphasizes academic performance, not wealth and prepardness.