SAT Panic: Taming the Irrational Fear to Flee

Ever see the original movie Godzilla or its remake? Some scenes recall a familiar and unfortunate attitude of high school seniors that happens every October: SAT panic.

Obviously the fear and anxiety isn’t quite that of those poor Tokyo residents or New Yorkers. There is tension, though, and misunderstanding. Students want to flee the test. Let’s take a look at some of the irrationality inspired by the Scholastic Assessment Test I (a.k.a. the SAT). Let’s cut the monster down to size.

First of all, getting a “low” score on the SAT does not make you a bad person. There should be a law that makes SAT scores as inaccessible as National Security Agency spy codes. Somehow, students always end off comparing their SAT scores. This leads to the inevitable erroneous conclusion that, if you get a high score, you’ll do well at some high-powered college. Conversely, if you get a low score, you better not have high hopes.

This kind of nonsense can permanently bend a young person’s thinking, not to mention his or her confidence and approach to life. The truth is that more colleges every year are placing less importance on SAT scores. Many schools regard reporting SAT scores as optional. That means you don’t have to take the test or report the scores you got.

Don’t misunderstand. Many colleges and universities do require SAT scores. Some use them as a basis for awarding merit scholarships. So there is a practical advantage in doing well on the SAT. However, if you don’t test well, don’t despair. The key to success in college admission remains how well you’ve done in a high-quality high school schedule. If you have taken quality courses and done well, you have nothing to be concerned about.

Don’t subscribe to SAT panic. Don’t participate in the numbers game. Do the very best you can if you have to take the test. Get some good coaching books, study vocabulary, and give it your best shot. Your success in college will depend on how well you’ve selected your school and how hard you work.

SAT scores have little to do with college success. Just do your best.