For most of us who have not taken the SAT yet, there is no doubt that we invest plenty of emotion into worrying about how to get a good score. More often than not, rather than cramming as much vocabulary as we can in the shortest amount of time possible, we ask for advice on tactics to hack the SAT.
Anyone who has tried SAT classes should know that they are effective, to a certain extent—most who have taken them get higher scores than they would have without. Companies such as New Oriental have become increasingly popular, with their ability to turn a non-English speaking student into a professional test-taker who can achievenear perfect scores. For logical reasons, many parents feel it is a wise investment to send their child to an SAT class so that they can achieve an “impressive test score” and dedicate their time afterwards on applying to their dream schools. This may not, however, be the wisest decision.
While many might believe that SAT classes can rapidly improve a student’s English abilities, this is a misconception. One may wonder how it is possible for a student’s critical reading and writing skills to improve if they haven’t learned English.Strangely enough, the whole process is extremely simple. One does not actually need to have a comprehensive understanding of English to take the test. The questions in the SAT all follow a very consistent pattern thatenables you to answer questions easily and correctly without a high level of critical reading or writing skill. It is almost like mathematics, in the sense that people have been able to discover a repeated pattern in all multiple-choice questions. This is what SAT classes focus on when they “teach students English”, and as a result, students who cannot even speak the language can somehow manage to get close-to-perfect scores.
Obviously, when universities look at your SAT scores, they are not looking to see how good you are at taking tests. They are looking to see if your reading and writing abilities are at a standard high enough for their institution. By “hacking” the system, universities receive a false representation of a student’s true abilities, which eventually causes the student to suffer when they enter the school. The big question now is: “is it worth it to lie about my ability?” This is a question that may be difficult to answer, especially for extremely ambitious individuals. It is, however, one that should be thought about carefully for anyone, since your answer may determine events in your future.
With the growing popularity of SAT classes and knowledge of how to “hack the system”, are SAT scores actually dependable representations of whether a student should be accepted into a university or not? Many students from all over the world are starting to discover the “correct method” of taking the test. With the ever-improving abilities of modern “test-hackers”, how accurate can SAT scores possibly be?
This article originally appeared in the Nov-December 2013 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Crystal Zhang, a student at Tsinghua International School (THIS).
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
Photo courtesy of BUTZ.2013 (Flickr)