secrets of the sat
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Since FRONTLINE's "Secrets of the SAT" first aired in the fall of 1999, the four students profiled who applied to and were admitted to UC Berkeley are doing well academically. Jonathan Antenore, JK Delane, Jenny Lee and Betsy Ruiz will complete their sophomore year this spring 2001.

students at uc berkeleyThe fifth student FRONTLINE profiled, Omar Rodriguez, was turned down by Berkeley and attended community college the last two years where he did extremely well. He has applied to transfer to UC Berkeley this fall and according to the Admissions Office, he stands an excellent chance of being accepted.

FRONTLINE asked all five students about how or if their SAT scores affected their confidence as college students and whether their scores were a good predictor of their grades. (Berkeley's average SAT was 1306 at the time they applied.)

FRONTLINE also asked them how they felt about the February 2001 proposal by the University of California's President, Richard Atkinson, to eliminate the SAT as an admissions requirement.

How did you feel about your SAT score and do you feel it influenced your level of confidence when you started college? In retrospect, do you think they were a good predictor of your grades in the first year?

Jenny Lee: I never felt that SAT scores were an indication of grades. It didn't make me more or less confident; it was a procedure that I had to go through to get into college. I don't think the least bit that they were a good predictor of my grades in the first year because college isn't about filling in a bubble or having good testing skills. Berkeley is about seeing what's outside of the bubble. (SAT score: 1110)

Gabriela "Betsy" Ruiz: I hate my SAT score. It was terrible, as most people will remember from the documentary. At the same time, while I felt intimidated by the amount of bragging that went on around me, I also felt proud of myself that even though I did not have the perfect scores, I could keep up with everybody else and I could think even more critically and more passionately than everybody else around me... I think that my score would have predicted me failing out of school but here I am still, hanging with the rest of them. (SAT score: 920)

Jonathan Antenore: I strongly believe that the SATs only measure how well you take the SAT. My score really didn't influence my confidence at all. I don't at all think that my score was a good predictor of my grades. (SAT score: 1390)

JK Delane: No, I did not feel that my SAT score was a good predictor of my first semester grades because I did relatively well -- with very hard work, of course. (SAT score:880)

As you know, UC is considering eliminating the SAT as a criterion of admission. What do you think of this proposal?

Jonathan Antenore: I think it's great and long overdue to get rid of the SAT. I think this kind of standardized testing is racist, classist, and once again only measures how well you take the SAT. Having kids start preparing for it when they're 8 years old, rather than exploring literature, science, history, and music, as they should to achieve a well-rounded education, is absolutely ridiculous... If I had spent my time preparing for the SAT instead of exploring diverse subjects, I probably would be good at the SAT, and not much else.

Jenny Lee: Despite my indifference of the SAT, I think the test should still be included as a criterion of admission. I've come to realize that school is about taking tests and building the skills to think and work as efficiently as possible. The SAT helped me learn how to take tests. In fact, what I learned in school, for example math or English class, didn't give me the SAT score that I received. The SAT determines how well one can take tests and no more.

Gabriela "Betsy" Ruiz:I think that it would give some people a better opportunity to get into the school... Maybe we [would] stop hearing [people say], "If a black kid got an average score on the SAT and the white kid got the same score, they would throw [the white kid's] application in the garbage and accept the black kid." I do not think that it is fair to make that statement. It makes it seem like us minorities are somehow incompetent, and that we shouldn't be allowed to be at Berkeley.

JK Delane: I think it is great! More students will be judged on how much effort they are willing to put towards their education and not how much effort they are willing to put on Kaplan or Princeton Review courses.

Omar Rodriguez: I don't believe that the SATs should be eliminated just yet... The combination of SATs and GPA gives colleges a better feel of each student than GPA alone. Until SATs have a replacement, they have a role in the admissions process. It would be irresponsible for colleges to eliminate SATs now.



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