This article excellently explains why and how debate teaches all of the necessary skills that the SAT is meant to cultivate. Just another reason why debate is awesome.
One of the most difficult things for high school and college students to do is think on their own. We’re taught to always follow the instructions and do things like listen to authority figures. Even when we’re told to think outside of the box, we’re told to not get too far outside of it. For me, debate was the one thing that really taught me to get as far away from the box while thinking as possible; it taught me how to think for myself and how to think critically about any issue that occurs. I think the reason for this is the fact that debaters are forced to switch sides on a position depending on the debate. For example, I have defended that warming is real, anthropogenic, and will cause total extinction of every living thing on this planet one debate, while defending the exact opposite in the next debate. I have argued that American power projection is the best thing ever and the worst thing ever. I have argued that the capitalist system of production is the best economic system and I have argued that it is the worst economic system. The fact that a debater is forced to critically think about sides of a given topic means that s/he is forced to understand that there are merits to both sides of almost every single argument. Being exposed to the sheer amount of arguments on each side of a position really opens one’s mind up.