Many colleges and universities strongly emphasize Scholastic Aptitude Test results when selecting students for admission. Are these test scores an accurate measure of a student's learning potential? What are some other means educators could use to measure a student's learning abilities?

I'm sure that when the SATs were developed, developers had the right thing in mind, but somewhere along the line those plans backfired.

For instance, in a math SAT preparatory course I was taught a simple and quick way to do a problem. I wasn't taught the actual way to do it, only a quick way of putting numbers in a pattern. Even though I knew the correct way to do the problem, I'm sure others did not.

The SAT should be more like an achievement test. The test should begin with basic skills and end with very complicated questions. The students would be encouraged to work up as far as possible, and then stop. This would determine the student's level of achievement.

Until something is done, the SAT will continue testing one's ability to take a test rather than one's ability to learn.


I haven't taken the SAT yet, but I think that it should be an accurate measure because it has to let you and the college you wish to attend know how much potential you have and what skills you need to work on.

College educators could give their own written or oral test to the student who wants to attend that school on the courses they need to take before they are admitted.

RENA MOORE Ellington

Scholastic Aptitude Tests are fine if all students are prepared for them in the same manner. But we know this is not true. We have also seen that SATs show only a fragment of a student's academic ability. I feel that colleges and universities should put more emphasis on the level of courses taken, the grades received, the amount of community involvement and the level of interest the student has shown in his/her education.

SHAUNGA HOFFLER School Without Walls

I believe SATs are not accurate measures of one's learning capacity. Many people can not take tests well. People may panic under tense conditions. People get mental blocks and cannot remember test-taking techniques. Almost everybody who takes the test is afraid of it.

The primary reason people are so afraid of the SAT is that many colleges and universities place too much emphasis on the scores. It can mean acceptance or rejection. If we know that a college has high standards, we are under even more tension and pressure to do well.


SAT scores are a valid means of determining the ability of the student preparing to attend college. It has reasonable problems and pretty much covers the skills every graduating high school student should have mastered. However, it should not stand alone when a decision of acceptance or rejection from a college is being made. Personal, oral and writing skills should be equally considered in the selection process.

The total person should be evaluated thoroughly. The SATs should be a major consideration when evaluating a student's eligibility, but not the only one.


SATs are the bain of my existence. As I wait for the arrival of the all-important scores, I envisage teenage America, simultaneously receiving their respective notices, and simultaneously becoming ecstatic or suicidal.

Does a high school senior have the right to be indignant that fourteen years of learning is condensed into three hours of filling in little dots? Yes! Admission to college should be based on the "entire" student, not on a sometimes arbitrary and always incomplete numerical estimate of the student's level of academic achievement.

In supposedly estimating academic prowess, SATs fail to take into account the disadvantages of the students who take the test; one such disadvantage is being in the economic lower class. Anybody in an upper income bracket, who possesses the benefits afforded them by money, is obviously favored. While money doesn't guarentee intelligence, it does provide extra benefits which bias the SAT in favor of the wealthy.

SUSAN ZINTER National Cathedral School

The SAT scores are an accurate measure of a student's learning potential because it gives the college educators an idea of what a particular student is capable of doing. I'm not a test-praiser, but this type of test has skills you should already know. SAT is not something you can study for, but there are courses that provide free lessons on how to prepare for the test. The SAT is a reasonable way to get to know a person academically.


Everyone accepts life and its aspects differently. People usually do better in subjects they can relate to.

Just because someone does poorly in a subject, it does not mean they are not intelligent. It may mean that person needs to spend more time in study. The rest of a person's life shouldn't be based on one test. Many intelligent people have writing or speaking problems.

Instead of the SAT, there should be several tests given. Some of the tests should be oral as well as written.

Our future is important and several test instruments should be used to best determine our placement.


This year, over a million high school seniors will take the SAT and studies show that many colleges don't pay any attention to the scores unless they are very low. Since the SAT is a standardized examination that is consistent in difficulty and format, it allows colleges to compare the ability of students from different schools. Some advocates of the exam say it is the high schools' job to prepare seniors for the test.

The teenager feels that the SAT is a great way to make up for any bad grades they made as seniors. Many colleges will admit you if your SAT looks good even though your grades are on the borderline. I feel the best way is to do well in school so you will not have to depend heavily on your SAT scores. In addition, I feel that, with a few more SAT preparation courses, the examination will not seem so difficult to the high school senior.


By using the SAT scores, I think that colleges do a disservice to students. Not all students can take tests and do well on them, even though they may be very intelligent.

One reason may be nervousness. Sudents who are worrying about high scores spend so much time thinking "I've got to do well so I can get into college" that they don't finish the test, or they get so flustered that they answer questions wrongly that they would otherwise have known.

When colleges decide whether or not a student can make it in their institution, they should take into account the courses taken, and grades received, in high school. The student's grades and knowledge of the subjects should be the major factors in determining acceptance.


The Scholastic Aptitude Test accurately measures a student's learning potential. It determines whether a student has learned the skills needed to survive in any higher educational system. The test contains questions on mathematics and English. These questions show the weaknesses and strengths of the student. There are questions on matters the student has not learned and by attempting to answer some of these, the student is given the opportunity to demonstrate an ability to think further ahead. Moreover, the outcome of an individual's scores will enable the college to help him select his career.


The SAT is a very inaccurate measure of a student's learning potential because some students cheat, guess or have trouble preparing themselves for testing.

I know that testing is a mandatory part of the educational process, but I feel that some schools put too much emphasis on test results. A person's intellectual status should be determined by his/her overall academic achievements as well as test results. In fact, their academic achievements should be emphasized even more because a student may not do as well on a test as on an assignment due to circumstances such as fatigue, emotional stress, anxiety and/or fear of failure.

Sometimes test taking can harm rather than help a student. If a student does cheat or guess and receives a passing score, the teacher will assume that this student is capable of handling advanced work when he or she is not.


I do not feel the SAT is an accurate means to measure anyone's learning ability. First, some people are not good at taking tests. They may not read and think as quickly as others. With the SAT being a timed test, it will not measure their learning abilities accurately.

Second, one test given in a short period of time can not really measure your potential. Many students work and study hard throughout the school year to make good grades, and all to have their futures shattered because of one test. It is unfair.

An alternative to the SAT could be an end-of-the-year evaluation sheet that is completed by all teachers who taught a student. These sheets could be placed in the student's academic folder at the end of the year. This process may be a little lengthy, however it is more personal and reasonable than one computer-graded test.


The SAT scores are not an accurate measure of a student's learning potential because the test only gives an idea of the student's knowledge at the present time. The test cannot measure a student's ability to learn or his determination to excel.

Just because a person doesn't know something doesn't mean a person isn't capable of learning it. Students in some areas have more experience in taking standardized tests than others, and it reflects in the test scores.

Teachers should be the ones to say how good a student's learning ability is. The teacher should also report a student's effort in class because it shows the student's attitude toward class work. Teachers have a better understanding of the students.

GARRY HESTER Mackin "Speak Out" Topic for November 26:

Some people believe that teenagers are not knowledgable enough about politics, the economy, international affairs, and other issues from today's news. How important is it to learn about current events? Do you think schools are doing enough to teach about relevant issues. Or is it the responsibility of the students themselves to be well-informed about the news?

Responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. Political-style cartoons on the topic are welcome and should be drawn on posterboard. submissions should include the student's name, school and grade.

Responses should be addressed to: Weekly High School Section The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071

Deadline for responses is Monday, November 16.