• Ken Baeza

I took the SAT

College applications are supposed to be fun: you get to talk about yourself, your hobbies, passions, and interests. It allows you to reflect on what you have done with your life. However, there is one thing that most (if not all) high-schoolers hate about applying to universities: standardized tests.

Standardized tests range from the very famous ACT and SAT, to the less-known AP, IB, and SAT subject tests. I have never met a person who likes these tests - and to be honest, I don't really like the concept behind them...

I strongly believe standardized tests don't really measure the applicant's "readiness for college" (Collegeboard, 2020), I believe they just measure the applicant's ability to perform well under stressful test conditions. Furthermore, it's evident that the more resources an applicant has, the more likely they are to perform in their standardized tests: wealthy people can afford to hire tutors to be better prepared for these tests - and others even buy books and guides to perform well. While I don't think it's wrong to be strategic when taking these exams, I still argue that they aren't a good method of measuring a student's capacities.

With that being said, I must say I am happy with my results.

Back in 2018, after I got into the American School of Guatemala, I took the PSAT. I worked really hard - I even got a guide to get prepared for that test. I felt quite confident with my preparation; however, and I got a socre relatively better to those who took it with me. I got a 1300. I must confess I was very happy with my result (it was significantly better than the practice tests I had taken). However, as I started to do more research on universities, I came to learn that a 1300 was not really that good...

Then, around the beginning of August, I started to study again for the SAT. I was schedule to take the test on the 29th of that month. I used Khan Academy to prepare myself, and did two hours of questions every day. On the last week, I took one practice test every day. I must confess I wasn't very satisfied with the results I had been getting in these tests. At the beginning, I got some really nice scores; however, as the day of the test approached, my scores started to lower... The practice test I took on the 28th was one of the worst scores that I had gotten during all the weeks I had been practicing; so, my morale was very low on the 29th...

The day of the test, I simply rushed through every section - I felt really insecure on my answers in the English part, but I felt comfortable with my responses in the Math section.

I was in shock after finishing the test - I had no idea how I had performed... I could have either done really well, or terribly bad. As time passed, I started to forget that I had taken the SAT, and I kept postpoining my registration to a second test. I wanted to take it at least twice before applying to college, to be able to superscore. However, the last day of late registration, I noticed that this option of registration is only available for U.S. students, so I missed the deadline: my last chance to take the SAT was gone...

I was extremely worried, because I had no idea of what my score had been, and I had missed the deadline to take the test again.

On September 21st, the scores of the August sitting were finally released. It was a really stressful day. Everyone was constantly refreshing the College Board website, expecting to see their results from the very first hours of the day. I was sitting in Math class when I got my results... I was shaking, because this was the score I was going to apply with. I quickly switched to another tab before looking at my score... I wasn't mentally prepared. I tried to guess what my score was going to be. I told myself that a 1450 is all I needed - but I knew that my performance hadn't been THAT impressive...

I was really nervous, but I knew I had to eventually check my results. So, I simply took a deep breath, and opened the tab...



I was in absolute shock... I never thought I'd get more than 1480, not even in my wildest dreams. I was truly shocked; I couldn't believe it.... I was extremely happy, and I'm sure my teacher noticed. The news quickly spread around the school, and I'm not going to lie - it felt really good.

While I'm extremely happy for my grade, I still can't help but feel bothered by the fact that many students who are equally capable as me didn't get a good score on the test. I still believe the SAT and other standardized tests can't really measure a candidate's readiness for college. For this reason, I'm really glad that this year the tests are optional. Many have decided to take the test (especially those applying to the Ivy League), but it's definitely good that students can now choose whether to submit their scores or not.

If you are also applying to college during November-December, I wish you the best of luck!

"If you can't stop thinking about it, don't stop working for it"