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Incentivizing the future

Huntley introduces the incentive program for SAT studying in order to push students to raise their scores on the PSAT and SAT.
T. Rainey
Khan Academy’s digital platform and course for studying for the Digital SAT.

The SAT marks the start of the third quarter of school, and one of the most stressful parts of a junior’s year between AP and honors classes, sports, clubs, jobs, and social lives. Additionally, the SAT was new for everyone this year as it moved from paper to an online format and the alotted time to complete the test has been drastically. 

To combat the new formatting, Huntley High School implemented an incentive program for juniors based on their time spent studying in the program Khan Academy. Students could earn prizes like a visit from the candy cart, HHS merch, or, the most enticing, no finals for English or math. 

Students had a benchmark score from their PSAT in the fall that they would have to surpass in both English and math to avoid taking the final for their respective classes. 

“I talked about [the program] a few different times in class, and then I offered it if they were done with other things,” math teacher Anne Price said. “It was not something that was on the top priority list.”

Getting out of finals benefits most students, as they can avoid a grade-changing test if their grade is at risk. However, some students do not have to take finals because of their AP classes, so they are less likely to be motivated by this. 

“Especially when you’re in such a high level math or English class, there’s not much better you can do,” junior Myesha Rafi said. “I definitely focused more on the AP classes than the SAT.”

This group of students already have a lot of classwork and they may not be pushed to study for the SAT in the first place as they are too focused on their AP exams in May. They are more likely to want to do better on the SAT, but the incentives are not impactful on their success. 

Plus, students may prefer to use other methods of learning like SAT classes, College Board, or Method Learning instead of Khan Academy. 

“The College Board [setup] gave me a better understanding of what the SAT would look like because it looked more like the PSAT,” junior Katie Ferrara said. 

Students should be able to pick the method of learning that best suits them because no one person learns the same way. Furthermore, a lot of these sites teach how to take the test instead of just teaching how to answer the questions. If students do not know how to take standardized tests, they need to learn how to because during the test they may forget exactly how to answer everything. 

Some classes give students the time to work on SAT preperations in class such as reading and grammar practice passages in English III or some separate time during Algebra II. However, these may have been the only times students were reminded of the SAT because of their homework. Even knowing that the SAT partially determines what college they can get into, students did not end up studying until the week or even the night before, despite the incentives. 

While students need the SAT to get scholarships or apply to certain colleges, they have not been pushed to do well on it even if they can get candy or skip their finals.

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About the Contributor
Taryn Rainey
Taryn Rainey, Floating Editor
Taryn Rainey is a floating editor for The Voice, it is her second year on staff. In her free time, she plays travel softball for the Chicago Cheetahs and golfs. She likes to read, normally Percy Jackson, and to listen to music.

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