The Purpose of the SAT

What is the point of the SAT?

Imagine you are a professor at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. You teach a course for undergraduate students who have just finished high school last year. You’ve fashioned together a wonderful list of reading material, prepared your lectures, and are ready to explore the depths of the ideas throughout the subject of your course.

This isn’t the only thing you’re doing, however. More than being a teacher, you are a researcher. And you write books. And you are an advisor to many very important organizations. In fact, these reasons, not your teaching ability, are why the prestigious university hired you in the first place.

Would you have time to help a student who doesn’t know how to read complex, abstract college-level material?

Would you have time to teach him how to write and argue coherently?

Would you have time to explain to him how to begin thinking logically and efficiently through problems he hasn’t seen before, using fundamental or basic concepts?

Of course not. (Especially when you have three hundred students in one course).

The purpose of the SAT is not to determine whether you were a good high school student. Your GPA already does that.

The purpose of the SAT is to determine whether you have college-level reading, writing, and thinking skills. Its purpose is to assess your future potential in college.

Colleges use the SAT to determine who can academically and intellectually succeed on their own while in college, and who can’t.

Colleges use the SAT to determine who can hit the ground running, and who will struggle and irreparably fall behind.

Colleges use the SAT to determine who has actual academic talent, and who will inevitably drop out.

Because no matter how many professors and TAs your university might hire, none of them will help you directly develop your college-level academic skills. They don’t have the time, and quite frankly, most don’t have the teaching talent. They’re listed among the faculty because they are Nobel prize winners – or potential ones anyway – not because they were renowned for their outstanding teaching ability.

And guess what? The more you go to those SAT and ACT prep courses that only teach you “strategies, tactics, tricks and tips,” the less time you spend on actually building real college-level academic skills! You may have found a shortcut way to a somewhat-higher SAT or ACT score, but you’ll still struggle in whatever college you’ve managed to attend.

Wouldn’t it be far better to simply develop your college-level academic skills in the first place? That way, you could do well on the SAT and do well in college itself!

Of course, that’s easier said than done. You could be like most students who eventually attend the most prestigious colleges and universities, who push themselves beyond the high school level standards set by their busy high school teachers (or more accurately, lecturers and instructors). But this is a very difficult thing to do, akin to cutting your own path through a jungle. It’s much better to have a guide, a pre-trodden path – or better yet, both.

That sort of guidance and path is what is offered by the Scholar Apprenticeship program at Seowon Academy. The idea, of course, is in the name: a scholar-apprentice works personally with a scholar who has mastered scholarship (and the scholastic skills), in order that the scholar-apprentice can become a scholar himself. The scholar is someone who, in addition to other virtues, has cultivated his intellectual and academic talents.

Do you know what the acronym of the “SAT” originally stood for? Scholastic Aptitude Test.

In other words, do you have the aptitude to be a scholar?