Preparation for SAT & ACT Compares to Prep for NFL Scouting Combine

SC Test Prep

Recently, I read an article in which the writer compared the NFL scouting combine to the SAT. Surprisingly, there are more similarities than you might think. Like the drills and tests football players go through in the combine, the questions on the SAT and ACT supposedly serve as a standardized evaluation of a student’s academic ability. This standardization allows schools to compare students from different high schools, regions, and backgrounds and is actually a good thing. In the same way that most of us would agree that throwing or running for X number of yards in the SEC is much more difficult than just about any other conference, a 4.0 GPA from a small private school that offers no honors or AP classes is a very different thing than a 4.0 from a large public school grading on a 5.0 scale with multiple AP and honors opportunities. Standardized tests level the playing field and allow admissions offices to make more objective and fair decisions than they often would be able to otherwise.

Another way the combine and the SAT are similar, the writer goes on to say, is that they provide context for what a student or player has done in the classroom or on the field. The best-case scenario is for a high SAT or ACT score to support a strong academic transcript, just like a strong showing in the combine supports good game tape. In the same way football often rewards effort over pure talent, a lot of schools would rather take a chance on a hard-working, dedicated student with an excellent transcript and average test scores than a student with a 1400 and no interest in their education.

Finally, the article compares the combine and the SAT by arguing that each is a test of preparation more than anything else. Unlike the other two comparisons, I both agree and disagree with this statement. I disagree because, while football players are aware of how different the combine is from actually playing football and prepare accordingly (USC player Jadaveon Clowney supposedly lost 10 pounds to run faster), students often have no idea how different standardized tests are from the ones in algebra or English they take each week. In other words, football players are aware that they are taking a different type of test at the combine, but students are not when it comes to the SAT or ACT. I agree, because when students are aware of that distinction, preparation really can make all the difference (Jadaveon Clowney wowed scouts and coaches with his 40-yard dash time).

Don’t believe me? Try to answer the following question: 6x+4y=20. 3x+2y=? If you are a good math or algebra student, then you will immediately begin solving for x, but best strategy is to understand that 3x+2y is half of 6x+4y, so the answer must be half of 20, or 10. This is a real question taken from a real SAT, but most students aren’t prepared to answer it the way I just described, which is why most students missed it and continue to miss questions like it.

This is why SC Test Prep exists. Preparation is the primary service we provide. Like coaches, we teach students the specific skills necessary to succeed on the SAT or ACT and work with them on their particular strengths and weaknesses until they can perform at their best. They enter the tests with a personal strategy for earning the score they want and with the only pressure that of executing their game plan.

Next time I will be talking about college search and campus visits. If you are a junior or the parent of a junior, now is the time to start thinking about them, so tune in!

Article: “Welcome to the NFL’s SATs” by Bill Barnwell, published on on 2.20.14, accessed on 3.3.14.