SOUTH BRUNSWICK: Statewide SAT scores increase by 10 points

New Jersey’s statewide SAT scores increased by 10 points in 2013, a startlingly large statistical jump when compared with scores from past years, according to officials.

Gopa Praturi, sophomore, Viking Vibe staf
New Jersey’s statewide SAT scores increased by 10 points in 2013, a startlingly large statistical jump when compared with scores from past years, according to officials.
   The state’s critical reading scores went up by four points, mathematics scores went up by five points, and writing scores went up by one point.
   South Brunswick High School contributed to this jump, according to Principal Mr. Peter Varela.
   Average student SBHS scores increased by 15 points in critical reading, 20 points in mathematics, and 15 points in writing, an impressive feat in itself.
   However, the statewide sudden increase in test scores, though a great achievement on the students’ and teachers’ part, may have also been influenced by the decrease in test takers this school year.
   Recent statistics, according to studies by the College Board, suggested a drop of 1,400 students actually taking the test, according to a Sept. 26 article posted on NJ.com.
   Supporting this theory, conversely, an 800-student increase in the number of test takers in 2011 was met with a dip in SAT scores according to a 2011 article on NJ.com.
   Mr. Varela declined to address the comparative lack of test takers saying, “I don’t want to undermine the achievement of students that have (taken) the test and done well.”
   In any case, the decline in numbers may have been a factor, but the increase could also have occurred, as Mr. Varela said, because the students just worked that much harder and were better prepared.
   Now that New Jersey, as a state, has exceeded its expectations, colleges will take a closer look at the state’s students for admissions, he continued.
   This is exactly what the test-takers were hoping for, as many students consider the SAT crucial when it comes to college admissions.
   ”SATs are super important because they’re the only way for colleges to weed out students who don’t fit into the score bracket,” said junior Chelsea Englin.
   Students like Chelsea are ready to spend time and money on tutors and classes to prepare for the SAT.
   Organizations like Catalyst Prep seize this opportunity to entice students.
   Other organizations like getsatprep.com provide statistics that seem to show large improvements on the students’ parts as well.
   According to its website, students who enrolled in that program, “averaged an increase of 90, 80, and 100 Points in the math, critical reading, and writing sections of the SAT.”
   However, some students disagree with the statistics, saying that these programs did not help them.
   Junior Nitish Arora, who took the SAT in 2013, said that these programs have minimal impact on a student’s scores.
   ”I’ve taken it all: boot camp and prep,” said Nitish, “The prep courses say if you use their method you’ll score higher, but honestly, they don’t work. In the end, you just answer A, B or C and hope you’re right.”
   Regardless of the effectiveness of prep courses, perhaps the increase in SAT scores may have been because of the teachers and curriculum.
   Sophomore Ahan Sikri suggested that previous knowledge of SAT subject matter might have an influence on performance.
   ”It is all subjective on how well you were taught in previous years,” said Ahan.
   Mr. Varela considers the teachers a large part of this accomplishment as well.
   ”Our teachers are making a difference with students every day, and the numbers are supporting that,” he said.
   However, he noted that the SATs are not the only important part of high school.
   ”It’s not always about just SAT scores, though they are important,” Mr. Varela said. “Colleges (also) want to make sure they enroll well-rounded individuals.”