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There's No "I" in SAT

June 05, 2007

When it came to applying for scholarships, my search always came to a screeching halt because I felt unqualified for any of the opportunities. The awards that promised “big money” were usually for students who devoted their entire lives to fellowships and community service. For someone who had focused more on getting a job and playing sports, community service was not a strength of mine.

When it came to these scholarships, I’d feel discouraged and end up not applying. I’m definitely not alone in feeling unqualified. In actuality, you’re probably a really awesome person who happens to have a unique skill. But maybe that skill will never be recognized. Maybe you are at a disadvantage, and no one will ever be able to notice.

With FastWeb’s Create Your Own Scholarship contest, why not create an award that makes sense to you? That’s why I’m creating an award that will reflect many of my friends’ situations while in their senior year of high school.

My award is Scholarship for the SAT: Standardizations Aren’t Telling!

Here’s my back story:

Standardized tests are a thing of the past for me, and I don’t miss those days for a second! But for anyone in high school, they are your past, present and future.

The SATs are often a stressful time, and test anxiety starts bouncing off the walls on the day of the exam.

I recall a friend who spent $150 on a course that promised to raise her SAT score by 200 points. She ended up taking the SAT four times, but only improved her score by about 20 points overall.

A lot rests on your ACT or SAT scores. Even though colleges promise that they are not the only factor in your application, your score could be the deciding factor when it comes to scholarship money or an invitation to an honors program.

I remember hearing about a girl, one of the most articulate and intelligent people I know, cry out, “The SATs will never be a gauge of what I am actually skilled at doing!” Even my friend who took the SAT course would probably attest to the same theory.

My senior year, a lot of my friends admitted they were bad test takers. The anxiety from the day of the exam, mixed with being on a timed schedule and the possibility of failing, were too many factors to take in at once. These factors ended up paralyzing them, as they clutched their No. 2 pencils tightly in their hands, and broke a sweat through the entire period.

And those tests never go away! If you’re trying to get into grad school, there may be more pressure because it’s more expensive. I watch my friends taking the GREs or LSATs going through it now. They’re experiencing those same feelings almost four years later.

For me, my SAT score was the deciding factor in my scholarship award. Though I benefited from it, it’s kind of sad that students will always be awarded on how they look on paper. Students who happen to have test-taking anxiety receive no breaks. Had I not been able to take my SATs four times, I would be going to a much less expensive school.

So for students who are not good at taking big tests, this award will help them afford a school that is not coughing up the bucks due to a low score. It will let the students who are trying their hardest (but coming up a few points short) that their efforts are not going to waste.


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