Difficulties of Studying for the SAT as an Ethnic Minority

BY ALINA GAO (staff writer)

Studying for the SAT is already difficult. But as a Black, Hispanic, or Latino American, it can be even harder. What is the reasoning behind this? For one reason, studying for the SAT is expensive. Those who can afford it will splurge on tutors, which can range from $45-$100 per hour. Textbooks are also very pricey, and taking the SAT itself costs $55. Taking the SAT multiple times helps increase your results, because of a system called score choice (where the College Board uses your highest score). This makes it harder to get a better score for those from lower income families, many of whom are disproportionately ethnic minorities.

Statistically, Black students are also less likely to attend prestigious schools with many qualified teachers and resources. Also, private schools are expensive, something that usually only those in the upper middle class can afford. Private schools and public schools in wealthier areas have better resources which better prepare their students for university. It’s a fact that wealthy students do better on the SAT than those who come from a lower economic background, because they have the money for additional resources like tutors and textbooks.

Another reason students from underrepresented minority groups consistently score lower is because “Studies show that low scores discourage test takers and can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy; students with a low SAT score may think themselves less capable of excelling.” Many minorities in America work in blue collar jobs, while only 16% of the STEM workforce is made up of Black, Hispanic, and Latino people. According to 52% of STEM workers, this is because they were “less likely to have access to quality education to prepare them for these fields.” Furthermore, most top tier schools are attended by mostly White and Asian students, due to their higher economic statuses and better resources. It all starts from their childhood, their schooling, and what they were told as a kid. Standardized testing will only magnify these problems, contributing to them, instead of solving them.

SAT scores are an important part of any student’s university application in the U.S. Universities are becoming increasingly difficult to get into. Without an SAT score, it’s difficult to even apply to colleges in the U.S., with Ivy Leagues like Yale and Harvard requiring your SAT score (since the pandemic, these requirements have changed). “Of those scoring above 700, 43% are Asian and 45% are white, compared to 6% Hispanic or Latino and 1% Black.” These results reinforce stereotypes against racial minorities. The SAT contributes to racial profiling, by putting those in lower-income communities, which are usually made up of racial minorities, in a situation where it is almost impossible to level the playing field.

Meritocracy is a myth. You can’t work hard without the right resources, and hard work won’t guarantee anything. Also, everyone starts from a different place, so what hard work gets you is what someone else has started with. It’s not fair, but it’s the way America works right now. Help lessen this difference by donating to charities and supporting organizations that help all students study. Everyone deserves a chance to pursue a good quality higher education.

Your economic status will always influence you. However, by changing the system so that all kids have equal chance, lower income students will have a fairer chance of higher education. The College Board makes way too much money by exploiting students, and there should be actions trying to make AP tests cost less, or at least something that supports those who do not have the funds or resources to afford AP classes or SAT tests. Changing the education system altogether, including giving kids more resources when they’re younger, could also be effective in this case.

Getting rid of the test altogether could also be effective. However, it’s not just the SAT preventing students from lower income families from excelling on college applications. Students from higher income families are more likely to have stable families, more time for studying, money for extracurriculars and tutoring, which all contributes to a high GPA. Their parents are also more likely to have well respected jobs with flexible hours, offering more support and stability to the student.

Being part of the ethnic minority community makes it harder to study for the SAT because a greater percentage of ethnic minorities fall into lower income brackets. The SAT can be discouraging, especially because of your result. That’s why it’s important to remember that regardless of your economic standing and social standing, a test score does not define you.


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