When junior year comes around, Michigan high school students are required to take the American College Test (ACT) and then submit those scores to colleges they wish to attend. Now, starting with the class of 2017, students will have to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the change should be welcomed.
The ACT has been used in Michigan as a free college entrance exam since 2007. The switch to the SAT will provide a more suitable college application test for high school students and is intended to help Michigan taxpayers save a significant amount of money.
An aspect of the SAT that appealed to Michigan’s College Board is the claim that the newly revised SAT released for 2016 will better test real world skills and analysis, thus providing a more accurate judgement of students’ abilities. Some minor changes include removing obscure, difficult vocabulary words and only testing math “that matters.” This is the first revision to the SAT since 2005, and there’s some concern that colleges will not be able to accurately judge these new results. However, through studies by the College Board, it’s been established that the SAT is an efficient evaluation of students’ college preparation, and it’s highly unlikely a slightly altered format will interfere with colleges judgements of such a familiar test.
In addition to this new revision, another important factor in Michigan’s decision was the price tag. The ACT test costs $38 and the writing portion costs $54.50, coming to a total cost of $92.50 per [complete] ACT test. On the other hand, the SAT only costs $52.50 per test.
To give you an idea, picture this: In the 2014-2015 school year, there were 115,321 juniors in Michigan. Run that difference through a calculator, and we can estimate that switching to the SAT will save schools approximately 4.6 million dollars a year. With such a dramatic cost reduction, it’s clear why the SAT is a more ideal exam.
Students at Loy Norrix were also in support of the SAT. Junior DJ Hughes has taken both the SAT and the ACT and said that the SAT was a lot easier.
“The SAT had way more common sense than critical thinking,” said Hughes. “The math questions were very simple and straightforward, along with the reading comprehension and grammar questions.”
Junior Laura Worline, has only taken the SAT, but had similar thoughts.
“I liked the way the grammar and reading sections were organized,” said Worline. “The grammar questions were next to the passages it dealt with, along with it [passage in question] being underlined.”
However, there is always room for improvement. “[They could] take out questions only involving locating information and add a science section,” said Hughes.
Regarding score requirements, with the previous SAT, Ivy League colleges looked for an SAT score of around 2100 (only 300 short of a perfect score), whereas colleges like Western Michigan University looked for scores around 1070 or higher. Due to the 2016 SAT revision, there’s a chance that these criteria may be adjusted, but obtaining as low as a 400 in each section could still have you on the right track.
Compare this to the ACT’s scoring and it’s clear that the ACT is a less suitable test. Only receiving half the possible points in each section of the SAT could get you into WMU, but on the ACT, an 18 -half of the total possible score- is likely to be rejected.
The fact that one test has so much influence over college acceptance is nerve wracking for many. The shift in Michigan from the ACT to the SAT will benefit many and hopefully relieve students of test anxiety by providing an accurate test where it is easier to score higher. Additionally, the money saved by switching tests could be used for upgrades across Michigan’s schools, or for other revisions in the education system.