Not only did the newly released Georgetown admissions report for the upcoming 2008-2009 school year point out a more than 15 percent increase in the undergrad applicant pool (“Undergrad Applicants Climbs 15 Percent,” THE HOYA, April 18, 2008, A1), but the report showed that standardized test averages are up as well. This year, the average SAT score of the Georgetown applicant pool was up to a lofty composite of 1421. This puts Georgetown students in the 96.6 percentile nationally.

These scores are just one of many indicators that Georgetown students are smart. Whether they are book-smart or street-smart, Georgetown students are at the top of their games academically. Yet one doesn’t need to see an SAT score to make that observation. In fact, the value of the SAT reasoning test has diminished as a whole due to the evolution of today’s overachieving students. As a result, I believe that the time has come to phase out the SAT reasoning test as part of the Georgetown University application process.

Currently, Georgetown requires that applicants take both the SAT reasoning test and at least three SAT II subject tests in order to be considered qualified candidates. It is important to note, though, that in recent years, the SAT reasoning test has become more of an aptitude test for measuring a student’s standardized test-taking ability rather than his critical reasoning abilities.

There are multiple problems with the SAT approach when it comes to measuring a student’s critical reasoning skills. First of all, for those of us without that natural knack for taking standardized tests, companies such as Kaplan and Princeton Review are quick to offer their expert tutorial services. This, of course, does not come without a cost. For example, one of the tutorial programs offered by the Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions company, the Premier Tutoring: SAT Masters, includes 32 hours of one-on-one, in-home tutoring, not to mention a $3,399 tutorial fee.

The value of the SAT is also lost when students are allowed unlimited attempts to improve their scores (time permitting of course). After a student’s second or third attempt, the scores no longer reflect students’ critical reasoning abilities, but rather their ability to master the standardized testing system.

Let’s face it, the college application process is a nightmare, and the SAT testing system only adds to this anxiety. Just imagine the opportunities that could arise if SAT requirements were eliminated. Those 32 hours and $3,399 could potentially serve as a means toward powerful life experiences that might just set someone apart in such a competitive applicant pool.

Leigh Morrison (COL ’11)

April 23, 2008

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