OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : Are SAT Preparation Courses a Good Idea? : Yes, They Help Compensate for Inequities in Schooling

November 18, 1994|ADRIANA LOPEZ-YOUNG | Adriana Lopez-Young attends Irvine High School, where this article first appeared in the student newspaper, the El Vaquero.

College-bound students understand that to gain admission to the school of their choice, they need to distinguish themselves from other students.

As is true with GPAs and extracurricular activities, the SAT score is an important part of beating the admissions game. Those who score high on the SAT reap benefits for the college application, the brag sheet and, in some cases, the pocketbook.

When so much value is placed on a single test, students rightly look to SAT preparation courses to strengthen their prospects for college admission.

Because of the different levels of education in the nation's high schools, the merit of an A differs from campus to campus. To compensate, the College Board has designed the SAT to help put a student's academic know-how into perspective for admissions' officers.

However, by using the SAT to compare students, an unfair privilege is given to those educated in the higher-quality (read: more economically stable) districts.

This argument can also be applied to students educated within the lower expectations of "regular" classes. Accelerated students in AP and honors courses are given an edge from the start, leaving behind other students less able to compete at a comparable level.

Students who have not been provided with a good education become victims of their own learning environment. It is one that they did not create and cannot compensate for by their senior year.

There becomes no way to fairly contend for the same spot in a college freshman class without some form of help. Preparing for the SAT is one way to compensate for the inequities.

In a capitalist manner, the demand for help in this area has created a market all its own. From the multitudes of SAT prep books found in the local SuperCrown to costly instructional courses, such as the Princeton Review, there is a diverse supply of help fit for any price range.

In school, a student seeks out a tutor when he or she scores low on a test and wants to improve.

In the same way, it is a student's right to seek help for the SAT, a test whose "grade" is too important to dismiss.

In a world where dog eats dog and the higher score prevails, a SAT prep course becomes a necessary defense.

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