Are the Summer SATs a Smart Move or a Waste of Time?
Taking the SAT is a major part of a college-bound student's high school career. The debate rages on about summer SATs: Could they make the testing process easier for students? Or will they just add that much more stress to the process?
Right now, the SAT is only offered during the school year. That means that students have to prepare for the test while also taking care of what is often a substantial load of college prep classes.
Critics of the “school year only” system argue that students would have more time to prepare if the SAT were offered in the summer. Others argue that, among other things, the necessary staff isn't around during the summer. So which side has it right? Let's take a look at both sides of the issue.
Pros of Summer SATs
As mentioned above, those who champion the idea of summer SATs point out that if the test took place in the summer, students would have more time to prepare. Without the worry of keeping up with current studies hanging over them, students can focus solely on test preparation.
As Dan Edmonds noted in a recent article for Time magazine, students generally take the SAT (and the National Merit-qualifying PSAT) during their junior year, when pressure to do well in class and excel in both studies and extracurricular activities is at its zenith.
As students begin preparing to enter college, their grades and their roles as leaders within their communities take on a huge degree of importance as they hope to stand out from the crowd of new admissions.
So by taking the SAT during the summer, students have the opportunity to maintain the hectic schedule of their junior and senior years without the added pressure of performing well on the SAT.
In addition, they stand a better chance of doing well on the SAT if they can focus on it and give themselves totally over to preparation in the summer months, when they don't have to worry about classes.
Cons of Summer SATs
Schools and other educational facilities administer the SAT and the ACT throughout the school year, when teachers and administrators are readily available to proctor the exam. Critics of implementing a summer SAT argue that schools simply do not have the staff to cover a series of tests when most staff are out of school for the summer.
Those who want to implement summer testing point out that many schools offer summer classes or other activities throughout June, July, and August. They argue that adding an SAT testing date or two during these months wouldn't create a hardship on schools if the test dates were added when classes or activities are already in session.
Another argument that many people feel has more weight is that students may actually be less focused on their standardized test during the summer. This can be due to summer programs, vacations, summer jobs, or the simple feeling of “my brain is on vacation”. And for some students, this kind of year-round academic stress might actually hurt their success on the test.
Prepare for the SAT
No matter when students actually take the test, SAT preparation is one of the best ways to keep pressure at bay. Nothing helps kill the pressure like knowing you're prepared!
Students who understand the strategy behind the test and have a little bit of practice under their belt, both understand the test better and feel more confident when they take it. Good SAT prep goes a long way towards lowering anxiety—and raising test scores!
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