The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) are both tests used for college admissions and merit-based scholarships. The SAT and ACT prevents many students from going to the college of their choice or from going to college at all.
Studies show that African American students score lower in both the SAT and ACT compared to other races.
Graph made by Christina Jones. Data from http://www.blackexcel.org/
Graph made by Christina Jones. Data from http://www.blackexcel.org/
According to a PBS news article written by Judy Woodruff, researchers studied 33 public and private colleges and universities where test scores for admissions are optional. The studied consisted of 123,000 students in over 20 states. The results were that test scores do not correlate with how well a student o in college based on grades and graduation rates.
The new admission requirements for Savannah State University are 24 in reading and a 440 in math for the Test (SAT) and a 17 in English and a 17 in Math for the ACT. The required high school grade point average is a 2.3.
Savannah State offers a remedial math and remedial reading class for students who do not score high enough on the standardized tests and the compass exam. Soon the compass exam will change to the ACCUPLACER exam.
A spring of 2016 Savannah State University graduate and now a Savannah State Admissions Recruiter, Quamori Goodwin, does not believe that SAT and ACT scores are a determining factor to decipher whether or not a student will succeed or not in college. Goodwin did not have the required test scores herself while applying for admissions to Savannah State. However, she had the required high school grade point average. Savannah State allowed her to take the compass exam to make up for her test scores and she passed it and did extremely well in college. She also was very involved within the campus community and had leadership roles in many organizations.
A senior picture of Quamori Goodwin. Courtesy of Goodwin
During her undergraduate experience, she paid attention in class, took notes, and reviewed them after class. A lot of her academics came natural to her because she was prepared from taking advanced placement classes at George Washington Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia. In high school, Goodwin took more classes than the state required. She was passionate about her major of Mass Communications, which also played in succeeding at Savannah State. “Because it was a passion, it was easy for me to knock out”, said Goodwin.
While recruiting, Goodwin always encourages students to take both tests twice, especially if they have waivers to take the test for free. Savanah State offers the compass exam for students who not have the required SAT or ACT test scores, but have the high school required grade point average. Students can also take the compass exam if they have the required SAT or ACT scores, but not the required high school grade point average.
There are many students like Goodwin that do not have the required SAT or ACT scores but do well in college. Goodwin says that there are also many students that score well on the SAT or ACT but still struggle in the college algebra course.
La’Michael Williams is 22 year old former Savannah State Student. Williams graduated from high school with a 3.2 grade point average with an SAT score of 1200. He was accepted to Columbus State University, Fort Valley State University Georgia Southern, and Savannah State University. He decided to attend Savannah State so he could stay in his hometown and continue working in a Warehouse while enrolled in college.
Williams studied Political Science at Savannah State for three semesters before he was put on academic probation. Then the next semester he could not come back to school because he lost his financial aid for failing too many class.
Williams has always been a good test taker. Growing up, he always passed standardized tests for promotion requirements such as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and graduation tests. The only standardized test that he found very difficult was the Social Studies portion of the graduation test, but he passed. His parents always ensured that he was prepared for his tests. They heavily stressed that he was prepared for the SAT and bought him study books and paid for him to attend a prep class to ensure that he got accepted into college. Although Williams had an above average score on the SAT, he feels like test taking is not the most important factor in the keys to succeed in college. Williams believes that keeping your priorities in line is the key factor to do well in college. Academics should be the main focus of a college student’s life. However, he spent more time on his job and partying rather than school work.
“College and high school is like night and day”, said Williams. High school was much easier for Williams because in high schools there are more tests instead of papers. In high school he was able to review a study guide the night before a test or sometimes even a few minutes before a test and do well. On the other hand, college is full of papers. Students cannot write an important paper the night before it is due and it is humanly impossible to do it a few minutes before it is due. In some college classes, Williams only took two tests, the midterm and final exam; and some of those tests included short answer portions. Many of his tests were posted online and the only thing he had to do was google some of his answers. “Passing all of your tests in college does not necessarily mean that you will pass that class”, said Williams. Usually papers outweigh tests. If you do not write your papers at all or well enough you are likely to fail a Political Science class, not matter how good of a test taker you are.
Williams recalls an incident when he got a grade of a 0 on his final paper in a Political Science class for plagiarizing, which caused him to fail the class. Williams said he truly did not mean to plagiarize. He was unfamiliar with APA formatting and he forgot to cite an entire paragraph. To this day, he still cannot understand why he got a 0 if it was obvious that the paragraph were full of quotes from the book. His professor gave him an opportunity to correct his work and resubmit it; however he was too busy with work and never got around to do it.
If APA formatting was taught in high school, Williams believes like he would have never made that mistake in the first place. Williams says when you come to college they expect you to already be familiar with the different writing formats. The only writing format that Williams used in high school was MLA, for his senior project; he is not even sure if he did that format correctly.
According to Williams, college is all about having your priorities right and being a good writer. The SAT does not determine these things. There is only a small portion of a writing section on the SAT. A standardized test cannot show how well you will adapt to living with your friends without your parents. Growing up, Williams’ parents were strict but when he started living on campus at Savannah State he could do what he wanted and go to the places that he was not allowed to go in High School. “I did not know how to act” said Williams.
Williams is employed at Home Depot and is satisfied with his pay. He does not plan on ever returning back to college because it is simply not from him. Savannah State taught him a lesson to stay true to himself because he never wanted to attend college in the first place. It was something that his parents wanted more than he did. Williams made long life friends and Savannah State and will always remember his fun nights. Williams says that his bad decisions in college good memories and he does not have any regrets. He is still proud of himself for trying.
In high school, Joshua Hunt took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) just to get out of class early, but ended up scoring high enough to join the United States army. However, the military had never been a career goal for him. He wanted to attend Albany State University to earn a business degree. He took both the SAT and ACT during his senior year and did not score well enough to attend Albany State. Hunt then decided to take the route of going into the military. He figured that he could go into the military for four years, then retake and pass the SAT and ACT and attend Albany State. This would even a better option for him because this way he could us the GI Bill to pay for his tuition.
It did not take long before Hunt realized that the military was not for him. He looked forward for his contract to end in 2015 so he could enroll in college. Unfortunately, Joshua did worse on the SAT and ACT than he did prior to going into the military. He was still unaccepted into Albany State. Hunt got accepted into Darton State College, which is also in Albany, Georgia. He was required to take the compass exam for both reading and math and he passed them both.
He is currently enrolled into the Business Computer Systems program and is doing exceptionally well. He currently has a 3.5 Grade Point Average. Hunt’s failure on the SAT and ACT was his main motivation to do well in college. Other factors in his success include good study habits, relationships with his professors, and staying committed to his academics.
Hunt said, “I guess my dream did come true after all because Darton State and Albany State is about to merge, so technically I will be able to attend ASU”. Hunt hopes that his story will motivate other students that are unsuccessful on the SAT and ACT still to go a college that will accept them.
Gernesha Parnell, a Resident Director at Albany State also does not believe that SAT and ACT is a factor to determine if a student will succeed in college or not. Parnell said, “Usually when students get into trouble in the dorms, it is because they are not involved, so they find trouble”. Parnell believes that being involved is the most important factor for succeeding in college. From her own personal experience, her SAT scores had nothing to do with her test. She did not study for the SAT and did not have a very high score, but she did extremely well in college. She was very involved in many organizations and is the former Student Government Association President for Albany State.
After successfully completing thirteen long years of grading school, low SAT and ACT scores can be very devastating for high school students seeking admission into college. Fortunately, there are many colleges like Savannah State that offer compass exams and replacements for the SAT.