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Should students be allowed more time on SAT tests?

December 18, 2017

Your time is up! Put your pencils down and close your SAT answer booklets. This is something all students hear at least once in their high school career.

Though every student’s main goal in taking the SAT is to showcase their skills and performance levels to colleges, many feel unable to perform to their highest abilities because of the test’s time constraint. The SAT is a test that can affect students mindset of their future.

Senior Shayla Ransome admitted to being worried about her score. She felt that she  “ruined any chances” she had of going to college. Although this wasn’t true, she believed this because she hadn’t finished the test.

”It’s not fair how I have a limited amount of time to finish my answers,”said Ransome. “There are so many questions for me to cover at different paces. I know I could do better if there just was more time.”

Many students share Ransome’s sentiments and aren’t afraid to voice this among their peers, especially at SAT testing sights.

“I took the SAT not too long ago for the second time and I noticed that by the end of every timed session, the majority of people in my class weren’t finished,” said Ransome. “During each break students would talk about the time restriction being unfair.”

Senior Ayomiro Aderin expressed his opinion on the SAT time constraint as well.

“The only thing I wish is that there was more time. I know the answers, but they don’t come as fast in a short amount of time”, said Aderin.

The proctor at the SAT testing site, an elementary school teacher, agreed and even recalled the PSSA testing. “The SAT is like the PSSA, except it’s not timed. Most of the kids get extra time having not finished and end up doing very well,” he said.

According to the educational organization Khan Academy, the SAT gives students one point for every correct answer and zero points for an omitted question or wrong answer. If only a fraction of the test is done, the grade will be based upon the incomplete test. That is also depending on how much of those completed questions were correct. Grading an incomplete test for any subject will result in lower scoring.

The SAT consists of 154 questions split into 5 sections: 58 math questions split into two sections, 52 reading questions within 65 minutes, and 44 writing questions within 35 minutes. There is also a sixth section that gives 50 minutes for an optional essay response. The time suggested for completing each question varies from less than a minute to a minute and a half. 

An article written by American author Hellen Buttigieg warns readers that rushing increases chances of accidents and omitted answers. She suggests slowing down and focusing on one question at a time.

In fact, the benefits of slowing down include, but are not limited to, increased creativity, fewer mistakes, more opportunities, decreased stress/anxiety, and improved communications.

It is possible, though, for the SAT to be completed. There is a reasonable percentage of students who take the SAT once, passing with a score between 1300-1600. Students who score a 1300+ on the SAT land in the 84th percentile or higher. These students are able to mostly because their natural pacing corresponds with the time limit on the SAT.

“I thought the SAT was pretty straightforward and easy to complete,” said Mariah Maynard, a college freshman who scored a 1410 on the 1600 point SAT.

According to American writer Virginia Postrel, “The SAT is not perfect. We all know smart people who do badly on standardized tests. But neither is it useless. SAT scores do measure both specific knowledge and valuable thinking skills.”

Because the SAT measures specific knowledge and valuable thinking skills, one possible solution is that the students should be given more time to demonstrate that. The students who do not finish need to be given more time, perhaps even on that same day to complete their testing.

Yes, test takers should have an understanding of time management, but everyone manages their time differently. 

Adolescents are constantly being tested with things like homework, work, extracurricular activities, and school. Students are already learning how to manage their time.

So what do colleges think? Ultimately, they’re looking for an overall academic performance. Some even offer an alternative like submitting a graded essay from school. Temple and Albright are two well known colleges that offer this. Many more colleges such as Indiana University of PA and Kutztown University of PA are starting to offer alternatives as well. So, as the years pass, maybe SAT scores won’t be necessary for college admissions.

Perhaps by eradicating the time limit required to complete the test, students could manage the time during the day to carefully and strategically provide their answers. Thus, ending in higher scoring overall.

If SHS students want to share their views, they can simply Comment below.

For more information on the SAT follow the two links listed below.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Should students be allowed more time on SAT tests?”

  1. Ayomiro Aderin on December 20th, 2017 11:12 PM

    My name is President of Christmas, and I approve this message.


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