My View: 10 reasons the SAT matters
July 20th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

My View: 10 reasons the SAT matters

Courtesy The College BoardBy Kathryn Juric, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Kathryn Juric is vice president of the College Board’s SAT Program.  She leads global program strategy for the SAT, which is administered annually to nearly 3 million students worldwide.

The College Board created the SAT to democratize access to higher education by providing an objective measure for evaluating a student’s college readiness.  This function has endured for more than 80 years and for those who doubt its value, here are 10 reasons why the SAT continues to be an integral part of the college admission process:

1. The SAT has a proven track record as a fair and valid predictor of first-year college success for all students, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status.  The most recent validity study utilizing data from more than 150,000 students at more than 100 colleges and universities demonstrates that the combined use of SAT and high school GPA is a better predictor of college success than HSGPA alone.

2. The SAT gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their college-preparedness despite inconsistent grading systems throughout the nation’s high schools.  And SAT scores provide a national, standardized benchmark that neutralizes the risk of grade inflation.

3. The SAT tests students’ ability to apply what they have learned in high school and to problem-solve based on that knowledge – skills that are critical to success in college and the workforce.  The College Board conducts regular curriculum surveys to ensure the content tested on the SAT reflects the content being taught in the nation’s high school classrooms.

4. Despite what some testing critics have said, colleges still depend on college entrance exams as part of the admission process.  According to a 2010 survey published by the National Association of College Admission Counseling, admissions officers ranked college entrance exam scores as the third-most important factor in the admission process – behind only grades in college prep courses and the strength of the student’s high school curriculum.

5. The SAT actually shines a spotlight on the inequities in education by putting every student on equal footing.  The notion that the differences in test scores among different groups of students is somehow the result of testing bias is an idea that is “universally rejected within mainstream psychology,” according to University of Minnesota researchers.

6. Unlike other standardized tests intended to measure a student’s college-readiness, the SAT requires a writing portion of the exam, an essential skill in today’s e-communications era.

7. While organizations that oppose standardized testing might suggest otherwise, nearly all four-year colleges require a college entrance exam, and some “test-optional” schools do, in fact, consider SAT scores in the admission process when students submit them.  Data provided by colleges and universities to college-planning sites such as show that many test-optional schools receive SAT scores from a majority of the students who ultimately matriculate at those institutions.  For instance, of the students who were admitted to and enrolled at Bowdoin last year, more than 70% submitted SAT scores as part of the admission process.

8. Parents and students should keep in mind that colleges do not base admission decisions on test scores alone.  The College Board has always advocated that the best use of the SAT is in combination with high school grades and other valid measures, as part of a holistic and comprehensive review of a student’s overall fit for a particular institution.

9. States and districts can use aggregate SAT scores in conjunction with other measures to evaluate the general direction of education in a particular district or state, develop curriculum, and determine staffing needs.  The SAT is the only college readiness measure statistically linked to NAEP, the Nation’s Report Card.

10. As part of its commitment to access and equity in education, the College Board introduced the SAT Fee-Waiver Program more than 40 years ago to assist those students for whom test fees presented an obstacle in the college-going process.  Today, more than 20% of SAT takers utilize fee waivers, including more than 350,000 students in the graduating class of 2011 alone.  During the 2010-2011 academic year, the College Board provided more than $37 million in free SAT services.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kathryn Juric.

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  1. LA

    I went through all of the above comments, and to clarify:

    1. ETS and College Board are not the same company, although they are both not-for-profit. The College Board hires ETS to develop & administer the SAT and related exams. The objective of both of the companies is to help "level the playing field" when it comes to education and college admissions, while still upholding high standards so colleges and universities have a statistically-proven method of measuring their applicants.
    2. $49 for an exam is a low price to pay to supplement a college application, and if eligible, fee waivers are available as well. The cost of research and development, let alone actual test administration, then score processing and reporting- needs to be covered. CB could easily charge $100/exam (AP exams are $87 each, and around half of high school students who take the AP exams take more than one) but that would defeat its emphasis on accessibility and equality.
    3. In any social situation, race/gender/class/etc. can be brought into the argument. It is an unfortunate truth that not "all people are created equal", but all people should be able to access some resources, such as the public library system. If the student is raised in an area/situation in which s/he does have disadvantages in education, there are organizations that exist solely to assist these individuals in overcoming the obstacles and potentially advancing to higher education.
    Also, the student can write about these challenges in his/her college essay, or submit a supplementing hardship essay. Colleges want their students to succeed, and if they have some kind of proof of an applicant's drive and motivations, and intentions for school/career, then that will be helpful.
    4. Colleges DO look at "real-life writing skills"; that is why the SAT is no longer the 1600-point math & reading exam, but upgraded to the 2400-point math, reading, and writing exam. Some may still refer to their scores on a 1600 pt scale, referring to the reading & writing sections only, but they still must take the essay section. Due to CB research, the analogies portion of the SAT was discarded and a writing section added because intensive research showed a high correlation between those with strong essay-writing skills & performing well in college.
    5. No one, other than those grading the exam, may have access to the student's answer sheet after it has been submitted. However, I believe the student may request a copy of his/her essay, as well as colleges may be able to view and read it, depending on the student's score-sharing preferences.
    6. Most of the comments above are personal experiences and comparisons of SAT scores vs. high school and/or college GPAs and other college admission criteria, vs. how the commenter has succeeded in higher education/career. Aren't you all just demonstrating that whether or not you took the SAT and whether or not you did well on it, you still made it to school and succeeded in life? No one seems to be saying "I scored X on the SAT, and wasn't admitted to college." The SAT seems to be doing well, then. I don't see any of the author's points disproved through the comments, although I do understand the confusion circulating student performance. Our school systems in general in this country need a lot of work (not to mention funding), but that shouldn't be confused with the actual role of the SAT.

    Maybe we should channel our energy into arguing about the unfairness of student loan companies instead... but that's another subject.

    July 26, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  2. Katie

    I was rejected from a big ten university in 1999. I was ranked # 5 in my high school class but because I am dyslexic I only scored 950/1600 on the SATs. I re-took the SATs and scored a 1300 and was accepted to the school that once rejected me. 5 years later I graduated #1 in my class with a double major in engineering and math minor. I am a firm believer that SAT scores mean nothing.

    4 years after graduating with my undergraduate egrees I received my PH.D and now am successfully employed.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  3. sfoch

    I respectfully disagree. The SAT during my era was used heavily to screen students and exam that despite nearly a hundred years correlates poorly with college performance and more importantly success in life. I had friends with very high GPAs but most SAT scores that were rejected from universities because of it. They went on to do extremely well in university and life. The SAT does not take into account that you can be average at solving theoretical problems on paper but make things happen in life by recruiting resources, focusing on studying and learning (the SAT is not a knowledge based exam), and drive/determination, the greatest factors on doing well. The problem is that getting into a school is not the issue, it is how you are going to do in life, what problems you are going to solve, and so on. The SAT is a function of an priori society that believes that success on paper will go on to solve the problems of the human race. With few exceptions the majority of successful people who do solve the problems of the human race have been average students with great drive and determination. As Calvin Coolidge said, the world is full of educated derelicts. The problems of the human race will always be solved by average people that "press on".

    July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Katie


      I would certainly agree that some of the most influential people possess great drive and determination more than they possess high IQs, but given the realistic necessity of the SAT, and other standardized tests, wouldn't you think that those people could use their drive and determination to find resources, study well, and advance their own test scores? The SAT is not really a measure of intelligence, but rather a measure of reasoning and endurance.

      In addition, people keep saying that testing is not in the real world...well, actually it is. If you ever want to be certified in a certain field, you're going to have to take tests. Want to be a lawyer? You need to take the Bar. Want to be a social worker? You need a license. You even need a license to be a cosmetologist, whether it be cutting hair or doing nails. I'm not saying it's the best measure of someone's ability, but it's a reality that testing is a part of our society. As I said earlier, testing is a form of insurance, whether it be colleges wanting to insure that a student can perform well or consumers wanting to insure that a business is certified.

      People, no matter their intelligence, who possess drive and determination realize this and utilize their available resources to pass these tests. A test tells me that someone–student, consumer, or otherwise–was willing to put forward the effort to pass it. That's what it's worth in our society.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:12 am |
      • Katie

        *student, business, or otherwise

        Whoops. 🙂

        July 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  4. eroteme

    I believe we could do without the SAT. Instead, give a simple test to see what percentage of high school graduates can read their diplomas without difficulty, also give them a job application form to see if they can fill it out without assistance.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  5. Rising senior

    I'd like to start out with the fact that I'm not a fan of the SAT. But then again, what student likes to sit down and take 4 hour tests? I agree that the SAT has it's strengths and weaknesses, and I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents.

    In under a year, from my first diagnostic test to my second SAT, I brought my math score up 150 points, from a 650 to an 800, and I brought my total score up 230 points from my first SAT to my second, from a 1980 to a 2210. Did I really learn anything in that process? Only how to take the test. Now that I am happy with my score, I can just forget that stuff, and never worry about having to use it again.

    Once a student finishes college (and, granted, takes any necessary tests for a career, like the bar), when, in his or her daily careers, will he or she need to take a test? Not many careers require tests all that often, and nothing like the SAT. So then why is there such an emphasis on testing in schools? By the time I graduate, I will have taken 44 major tests, counting midterms, finals, and tests such as the ACT, SAT I, and SAT II. That is nearly 3 days of solid testing. Isn't the purpose of school to learn?

    In school, I take AP classes. Not just because I like the extra point to GPA, and definitely not because I enjoy sitting in a room taking multi-hour long tests. I take them because the teachers are much more concerned with teaching you material, and kids that actually want to learn are the majority, not the minority. The teachers are more engaging, and the course is more fun. Sure, it is more difficult, but that only makes you feel better when you accomplish something.

    Another thing is how much value some people place on the test. My sister has a friend who spent last summer and this summer in a 6 day a week, 10 hour per day SAT test prep class. And she will just be a junior this year. Then there are the news reports of student who pay others to take their tests for them. When people do things such as this, everyone looses. The kids who put in honest effort get placed lower on the curve, the kids who spend hundreds of hours studying loose out on time they could spend learning or relaxing, and the kids who cheat suddenly have a standard that they may or may not live up to and the possibility of loosing it all should they be caught.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Beth

      Yes, everyone "looses."

      July 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  6. katiejanefernelius

    I think if we were to look at the SAT–or any standardized test–as the sole factor of college admissions, then it would be valid to point out its inherent flaws. However, standardized testing is not the sole factor of college admissions, merely a component in addition to high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal essays, and resumes.

    I am a Caucasian, lower middle-class girl who graduated a few months ago from a private high school as the class Valedictorian and will be attending Duke on a full-ride merit scholarship. My mom worked a second job so I could attend the high school and my family could not afford to hire tutors or test-prep programs. Personally, I scored well on the ACT at a 35 and chose not to take the SAT. I had many affluent friends who had infinite resources available to them and they still did not dramatically improve their test scores. Within my group of friends, I knew people with very high SAT scores and people with average SAT scores. Both groups of people did well during the college application process. My closest friend did not score above a 2000 on the SAT and still got admitted to UC Berkeley (the top public school in the world) by the strength of the components of the rest of her application.

    When I was going through the college application process, almost every single college emphasized that test scores were not a determining factor in admissions, just a way to standardize results across different measures of assessment in high schools. With a strong GPA, genuine recommendations, and intriguing personal essays, a kid could still get into an Ivy League school despite a lower test score. Someone with socioeconomic disadvantages could use such standardized tests in order to prove their proficiency and readiness for college, despite not having the ability to participate in as many extra-curriculars or have adequate school support. In my experience and the experience of my friends, test scores do not determine your admission into colleges, it only is an augment to those who do well.

    That being said, I do believe that the SAT and ACT are not indicative of a student's ability to be a successful, intelligent, and creative thinker, but the tests measure basic skills that a healthy school system should be teaching its students. Regardless of a student's potential, a student aiming for an undergraduate education should have these skills in order to be prepared for the rigor of work. Standardized testing is a form of insurance for colleges. So long as a student can reach average test scores, even if not exceptional, colleges know that the student has the capacity for basic reasoning, which is the foundation for many subjects. While it is sad to say that many of a lower socioeconomic status may not reach that average benchmark, I think that is a symptom of a poor school system more than it is a symptom of poor standardized testing. Colleges don't admit these kids not because they don't have the capacity for great intellect, but because they are unprepared for the level of work in an undergraduate education.

    Standardized tests may not be perfect, but they are a means for any student to prove their proficiency. If your child is a bad test-taker, then worry more about making the other components of their application strong, because no college does not admit a student based solely on their test scores. If your student cannot hit the average benchmark, then unfortunately, their primary and secondary education did not prepare for college. It is not their fault by any means, but it is indicative of an education failing to teach a basic skill-set. I would encourage that type of student to utilize free test-prep resources at public community colleges or to try taking college-level classes (which are, more often than not, free at community colleges). Most importantly, I would encourage them to go to the school board in order to discuss the general lack of success in test-taking and to propose some sort of remedy, whether that be a change in curriculum, more teacher office hours, or offering school-wide test prep. In pursuing one or all of these activities, I am sure you would not only help create positive change in yourself and your school community, but you also would be showing colleges that you care enough about proving your proficiency to go to such lengths.

    At the end of the day, I think college admissions come down to a student's ambition and ability to put that ambition to work. As far as I'm concerned, you can use that ambition to use test scores to your advantage, whether as a measure of your own proficiency through higher test scores or as a means of showing your willingness to remedy lower test scores through pursuing additional test-prep resources and strengthening the rest of your application. No matter the test score, either path is respectable.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • awarthurhu

      Yeesh, a piece like this proves she deserves a full ride scholarship to Duke. Well done.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Terence

      Please do not speak out of ignorance. As a teacher, I know that the SAT does not mean anything. Most colleges do not even require the SAT anymore, and those that do weight it lightly. As educators we have known for a long time that the SAT is not a good predictor of how you will do in college and we have been fighting to have the value placed on this test removed. The SAT is a company that makes money off of testing. It is in their best interest to require this test for college admission because they are in business to make money. All standardized testing is a profit making venture in the United States. The Paraxis exam for instance charges $90.00 for the exam, $50.00 to register for the exam, and and additional $40.00 to get a copy of your scores. Its a total scam yet every teacher has to take the Paraxis to get certified to teach. So while this woman on The College Board can defend an exam for its merits, she also has ulterior motive that the exam puts money in her pocket

      July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
      • Solo

        You might want to invest your teacher's salary on some more of your "research" – schools at all levels make huge profits over testing, and the results that they put forward (even when some are not honestly obtained.)

        July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
      • Fed Up

        And with all of the teacher testing, there still are those who could not answer questions such as "what is the capital of Vermont?" Testing like this is just a requirement to decide who wants certification, and the standards are ridiculously low. The ones with high expectations are the teachers themselves – who want everything handed to them on a silver platter.

        July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Solo

      Berkeley is not the top public school in the world, kiddo.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  7. oldenavy

    Whine, whine, whine. The SAT separates the wheat from the chaff.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  8. Doubler

    You're right – Saturday does matter.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  9. Leslie David

    SAT no, ACT yes. I have a degree in Medieval Literature but couldn't understand the analogies portion of the SAT. I found the ACT a much better and more concrete measurement tool of knowledge.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Solo

      Wow. My nephew wanted to pursue some moronic literature degree, but thankfully changed his mind and studied accounting. Do baristas still need that literature degree? I don't need quotes from Chaucer while ordering a latte. The SAT rewards those who deserve it, pure and simple.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  10. JA

    When I was in high school, we were given the choice of taking the SAT or the ACT. When we learned how messed up the SAT scoring system is (they have a very...interesting...way of docking points), we all flocked to the ACT.

    Besides, all of these study guides for the SAT, ACT, etc are a joke and a waste of money. If you can take a multiple choice test and have a basic understanding of grammar, you can pass the test. Multiple choice is just process of elimination; even if you have only a basic knowledge of something, you can pass a multi-choice test on it. And writing...if you can't write a coherent sentence by the time you're in high school, then you really screwed up somewhere along the line.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  11. Ryann

    I NEVER took the SAT in high school, actually I started college at 22 in community for a few years. Now I'm in a PHD engineering program at a top 20 school. I know many students from high school with stunning SAT scores who dropped out of a tough major or college all together.

    Just my 2 cents, granted I'm most likely a strange anomaly.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  12. msp

    The really good kids have high GPA and high SAT/ACT scores. The really poor kids have low GPA and low SAT/ACT scores. High priced prep course or tutoring does nothing to either group. SAT/ACT alone means nothing but along with other indicators present a much better view of the student.

    The content of the SAT tests itself is rudimentary. Any kid taking AP Calc is going to find the Math section middle school material. It is a 4 hour test. A student need to be able to focus for a good duration of time, disciplined to take the test, in control of himself/herself to perform under pressure. The act of doing well speaks volume about the student's focus and discipline. Test taking tell you something about the character of the student that may not otherwise be visible through GPA.

    July 23, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  13. Random guy #77

    It seems to me that most people on this board that claim the SATs are bad have a sad tale of woe to back it up. It is not an absolute indicator of success (as everybody is told) but some people think that their one example of being a 2.0 student and getting a 1600 on the SAT proves it wrong. Or that their kid had a 4.0 HSGPA and scored terribly on the test. Or that the test is geared to rich, white kids who took prep courses.

    Well for what it's worth, I was a poor white kid, no test prep, 3.9 HSGPA and got a 1390/1600. I went on to do very well at a state college (University of Washington for those who want to know).

    Is the SAT perfect? No probably not. But what do you suggest in it's stead? I have seen first hand the grade inflation from schools that socially pass their students. So you cannot take all HSGPAs at face value. Heck you cannot even take college GPAs at face value sometimes. So until someone comes up with something better, SATs/ACTs are here to stay and that is fine with me.

    July 23, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • MarylandBill

      When you get enough people who have those tales of woe, you have to start wondering.

      I will do one better, I have an almost tale of woe. I know someone who was barely able to break 1200 (out of 1600) on the SATs (out of 1600) as a result almost did not get into the Honors program at his college and got in mainly because a friend told the honors program coordinator about how he had the highest rating in his High School's history... and ended up with a 4.0 in college and a Marshall Scholar (The first in the College's history). It didn't stop the college from making a 1300 (out of 1600) a mandatory requirement for admission to the Honors program a few years later.

      July 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • JSCERI

      Explain to me how you got a 1390/1600 on the SATs please....considering each portion was worth 800 points EACH totaling 1600.....liar

      July 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • Ed

        "JSCERI: Explain to me how you got a 1390/1600 on the SATs please....considering each portion was worth 800 points EACH totaling 1600.....liar"

        You don't know much about the SAT, do you? Yes, the SAT has three sections – MATH, CRITICAL READING and WRITING – but many schools and students only refer to the first two, since the writing is a newer section. Voila 2×800=1600. Don't be so quick to pass judgement.

        July 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • JSCERI

      random guy # 77..... PLEASE......Explain to me how you got a 1390/1600 on the SATs please....considering each portion was worth 800 points EACH totaling 1600.....liar

      July 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
      • Solo

        The scale varies up to 1600 – each section worth up to 800. Clearly, you have never taken this test.

        July 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
      • Bigheff

        You are an idiot. Historically the test was out of 1600 with 800 for each section. When I took it 15 years ago my total was 1440. That was the standard way to describe your combined score from the two sections.

        July 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  14. amelieandelise

    THIS article is like reading something written by Bernie Madoff on why you should invest in his Ponzi Scheme. Sheez. I am disappointed in you CNN.

    July 23, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  15. amelieandelise

    This article attempts to promote a multi million dollar scam and is written by the president of that multi million dollar scam.

    Thats like Bernie Madoff: Special to CNN on why you should invest in his Ponzi Scheme.

    CNN...I am disappointed in you. Shame.

    July 23, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  16. Flamespeak

    The SAT was originally designed to be a good measuring tool to determine where someone stands for higher education across the country. It was made with the intent of giving people from less wealthy or well to do areas a chance to get noticed by higher standing colleges.

    Now though, it holds about as much water as an IQ test.

    July 23, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  17. Truthintesting

    Remember one thing, that the College Board is a FOR PROFIT company. Their program assumes that students will take the SAT's multiple times. Not counting additional fees for sending scores to colleges after a student sees his/her scores, fees can run into the hundreds of dollars. Then consider coaching by either private teachers (many who have worked for the CB and know how to "trick the test" – and now charge over $100/hr), or private organizations which "specialize" in SAT coaching. These programs can also run into the thousands. This is before a student even starts the college admission process.

    The truth is that many major colleges/universities have come to the realization that taking a 4 hour test may not be the best determinant of a student's performance in college. In 2005, the CB expanded the test to include a writing component that is not even considered by many schools in terms of the student's scoring. Just another reason to charge more to make teenagers cringe that their entire futures hang on their performance on a Saturday morning.

    In the early 1980's, under pressure from a variety of states and organizations, the ETS was required to revamp the SAT as it was found to be biased toward white, upper middle class students from high performing suburban schools. In addition, they were also forced to release the student's answer sheet so a student would have some idea of how they performed and what to focus on prior to dishing out more money for the next go round (this is of course, for a fee).

    For those students and parents who are nervously approaching the SAT for the first time, here's a little hint...Both of my children who attended a high performing high school performed miserably on the SAT's. They both had GPAs of 3.6+ in honors/AP classes – just not good test takers. I spent thousands of dollars on test coaching which helped some – but nothing substantial. Nevertheless, they both got into great schools, one on a full academic scholarship, and graduated on the Dean's List and have excellent jobs. Guess what – contrary to what this author says, the SAT's don't matter. If you can't get into your school of choice right out of high school, go to a community college or another college/university, get your 30 credits and transfer. Then the SAT's – and the College Board – mean NOTHING!!!

    Lastly, two other important facts. Check out This organization maintains an excellent websites of schools that either do not require the SAT or are SAT optional. The other point is that if you are not planning to attend an Ivy School, there are ways to trick the exam into minimizing your incorrect answers and maximize your score. An omitted answer is less harmful than a wrong one. You just have to answer a certain number of questions from each section – remember that most of the time the questions get harder toward the end of the section so focus on the first half to do well and don't worry about rushing to finish the test. Find a good coach for one hour and get the details if you have to take the test.

    Sorry College Board, you failed.

    July 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Old_Dog

      "biased toward white, upper middle class students from high performing suburban schools"

      - Hmmm, let's see - how would I go about creating a math question that would favor "white" students over "non-white" students, all other things being equal? What would such a math question look like in algebra? in number theory? in geometry? in set theory? Are these ETS people that clever? Are we saying that they can distinguish DNA simply on the basis of answers to a set of math questions (ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL)? That seems highly implausible.

      Well - then, what about a set of math questions that would favor "upper middle-class students" (again, all other things being equal)? None readily come to mind. It's hard not to conclude that the math section is just a straight forward measure of a student's ABILITY to do math.

      Hence, shouldn't we see parity in math scores even if there might be bias in the two other components of the SAT (the "verbal" and the essay parts)? Unfortunately, that isn't the case.

      July 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Patty

      Perhaps if you did not make such a big deal of doing well on the SAT's they would have done well. Why would you spend time and money preparing for it if you children were doing so well in school. You could just let your kids research what college they want to go to and let them figure out what they need to do to apply.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  18. LM

    If you don't like the SATs, just go to a school that doesn't require them. Odds are most of your classmates won't be too bright..

    July 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  19. LM

    We're talking correlation – a student with good SATs is more likely to do well. That doesn't mean some with poor SATs won't also do well. That's why we look at multiple predictors – grades, SATs, extra-curriculars, recommendations, APs. Almost anyone can get As at most of today’s high schools. A lot of parents are deluded into thinking their kid is super smart when they are in the 50% of all kids at their school getting these kinds of marks. For a lot of parents, SATs are just a harsh slap in the face of reality

    July 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  20. Cindy

    Unless you're going to an East Coast, Ivy League college, the SAT is worthless. Most schools prefer the ACT test, as it's a better predictor of how students will do in college because it is based on things they know. I took both in 1987 (yes, I realize the tests have changed since), and scored under 1000 on the SAT but above average on the ACT. I now have a master's degree (in which I earned a 4.0) ... guess which test I would put more faith in?

    July 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • LM

      What field was you're Master's in and at what school? I recently took a class in an MEd. program in a 3rd tier college’s education department that required only a couple of hours of work a week and only basic literacy and got an A. This was a tiny fraction of the work required in any of my undergrad classes in philosophy at a better school, and even less than required for the anatomy class I just took at a community college. Both school and program make a huge difference when you're claiming you got a 3.8 GPA in college after bombing the SAT. Those who say the SATs don't matter appear to assume that anyone who passed any program at any school is a "success". In a lot of states you have to give teachers basic math and English tests AFTER completion of certification because they are trained so poorly. People saying they “did fine in college” without saying both where and in what program just don’t get how numbers or probabilities work. Further, a single case (your sample of one) proves NOTHING unless you are arguing against an absolute statement, which the SAT/Academic Success correlation is not. You can’t use a single case to argue against correlation. From a survey of the folks posting here I’d say that bombing the SATs correlates with being to dumb to take a statistics class, but that would be using a poorly chosen sample biased towards whiners.

      July 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Patty

      There are a lot of Master's degree programs that have half of their graduates getting 4.0 GPA's.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  21. Old_Dog

    Let's say you have a medical problem and that you are being examined by a physician. The physician says that he/she will check with next-door neighbors, cousins, the butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker, and Google. Your response would probably be something like, "What???? - do some STANDARIZED tests (e.g., blood work, MRI, whatever is needed)!!!!!"

    So in the field of education, standardized tests shouldn't be used??? Do we have a double standard here? If so, then why?????

    July 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • sam and tracy

      Standardized testing is not welcome in education, because it interferes with the introduction of unproven teaching techniques and puts pressure on the core of the senority based teacher compensation system.

      If you could measure which teaching technique or teacher might be statistically better, you might upset the current political educational truism where more money for continuous unvalidated curriculum update materials (new textbooks, teaching guides, training) and for providing non-classroom administrative career paths for ineffective teachers of long senority are unquestionable tenants and such spending is manipulated by teacher's union leaders and their "elected" career school board enablers (who often take kickbacks from curriculum update vendors). Of course this doesn't happen all the time in all school districts, but when you let the fox guard the hen-house, it happens more often than you might want to know about...

      Although the senority/tenure system is the real domino that they don't want to fall, they fear the fall of any of the other dominos will result in all of their power will be lost, so they guard the entirety of flawed system with their very soul against any possible attack vector: the measurement potential of standardized testing is the most mortal of enemies.

      July 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  22. Young Autistic Man

    SAT scores are useless. From the math and reading section of SAT exam, I have a 1040 (640 from Math and 400 from Reading). Did have bad start in college (did not do well in biological science), but right now I have overall GPA 3.71 in undergraduate program. Chemistry and Mathematics are the two majors.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Patty

      If you really knew anything about mathematics you would know that a scientific study with one subjectt is not valid.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Patty

      If you really knew anything about mathematics you would know that a scientific study with one subject is not valid.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  23. sam and tracy

    It's obvious by many of the postings here that some people don't realize that the original SAT(top score 1600) that they took was deemed to be so flawed by the University of California (aka UC) system that they essentially threatened the ETS to panic and create a new SAT with a writing test or they would abandon it. The new SAT test ditched the silly word analogy section, has a new free-form math section and and essay with a top score now of 2400. This new test, although it addressed many of the concerns of the UC system, but it is not yet proven with many years of statistics.

    Short story. Old test sucked, they threw it away. New test is currently on probation with UC system. If UC finds that this new test isn't corrolated either, then they will likely drop it and other universities will probably too. This is why the ETS conducts big-spin marketing tours for the SAT. They are in a panic about losing their cash cow...

    July 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Patty

      Or they wanted to make the SAT optional, meaning only those who did well on it would report it. This would make the schools average SAT score look much better.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  24. 640 V 690 M

    640 V, 690 M, High School Class Rank 22/769. First Year GPA 3.2 at a top 100 college per US News & World Report.

    The SAT is a crock. It tests nothing more than the ability to take tests.

    July 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Elliot

      What is your point? Your GPA, class rank and performance all seem to corroborate your SAT score as an accurate measure of your success.

      July 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Patty

      Perhaps if you had studied more you could have done better. It is hard to predict how hard someone will work once they get to college away from parents prodding.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  25. The_Mick

    What Kathryn didn't mention was the fact that some school systems grade harder than others and that the SAT is one way of determining the relative merits of students from different systems whereas the greatly inflated grades at so many schools are NOT. The pressure on teachers to give high grades in most systems is so great, one of my colleagues (who died from a stress induced heart attack in 2007) was called into the Principal's Office to explain why so many of his students failed. He said, "You have a requirement that if a student misses 15 or more days in a semester, they automatically fail. That accounts for 90% of my failures." The principal retorted, "Well, we're expecting you to significantly reduce that number next semester."

    July 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • LM

      Agreed. Standardized tests, like much in life, are imperfect. But comparing grades from radically different schools is close to meaningless.

      July 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  26. tobemd

    1180 on SAT after my third try. (first two tries were obviously lower). that was 8 years ago. Im a 4th year medical student about to get my MD in 8 months. there is a way to take these tests. I have always struggled with standardized tests (SAT,MCAT, STEP 1, STEP 2). i dont think i would have made it this far if i "wasnt smart enough".

    July 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Elliot

      I hope you will not be offended when I seek a second opinion.

      July 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
      • tobemd

        hahaha...not at all...but if you think like that...then make sure you ask for a high school transcript for every doc you see.

        July 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Patty

      It doesn't take a great deal of intelligence to get into and through medical school.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  27. Greg

    Some high schools just hand out A's to inflate the grades. Some schools make you break your back to eek out a B. You need measuring stick and the SAT is that stick. It is not perfect, but it is a much better measure of a student than grades, which at many schools is just who is in good with the teachers. I scored a 1320, 700 verbal, 620 Math. GPA 3.0. Graduated college with nursing degree.

    July 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  28. foxwatchinghen

    Quote, "Editor’s note: Kathryn Juric is vice president of the College Board’s SAT Program."

    This information just nulls and voids everything she has to say. INext story.....

    July 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Desert dweller

      Just saying null and void is a pretty poor response. She is giving their defense of the tests. You have not added anything to the discussion.

      July 23, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  29. Greg

    I took the ACT to get into GMI in 1998. I was horribly sick, had a bottle of cold medicine and an box of tissues sitting on the desk with me. I am pretty sure the 6 kids sitting around me got poor results because of me. Somehow I eeked out a 31 for an overall score. Told myself I would never take another standardized test. Graduated GMI in 2003 and entered U of Michigan for my engineering masters because they didn't require me to take the GRE with my GMI degree. Now I am taking my MBA at Michigan Tech because they didn't require me to take the GMAT. I am certain I will not go for the PhD, I've had enough.

    July 22, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  30. nooffensebut

    July 22, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  31. Kim Richard Smith

    More evidence that our educational system revolves around test scores that in the final analysis don't amount to anything next to imagination and creativity.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:16 am |
  32. jamest297

    How is is even conceivable that someone would write a column (let alone have it published on a major news distributor) about the 10 reasons the SAT matters. Are you kidding me? That argument was settled and discarded in 1966.

    July 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  33. smokey geo

    I had thought the SAT's were a way to 'standardize' student performance across many different high schools, since college admissions officers are only aware of the academic standards of about 1/2 of them. That seems like a fair objective to me however I do wonder to what extent parents with resources gain advantage for their kids by spending thousands on those prep courses. I also wonder to what extent test-taking skills are relevant, especially since many of the questions are sort of trick questions and speed is a really big factor.

    My high school daughter got almost straight A's this term in her high school, one of the top districts in one of the top states in the US but she still got scores in the 500's and subject test scores in the bottom 30% percentile even in courses she'd been getting A's in. That seems to say more about the test than her academic skills.

    July 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • josh

      Actually, it says more about the school than anything. It means the teachers were giving away grades. It is pretty typical. It is called grade inflation. Consider for example students that have taken a "Calculus" course in high school, and yet when they go to college they can barely factor a polynomial or anything math intensive. If I were you I would complain to the school.

      But this also shows the problem with standardized testing. It makes the assumption that everyone receives the same education at every school. We know this to not be the case. Students from poor communities get cheated on their education all the time.

      be well...

      July 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • M

      Says the school isn't preparing you child for an accredited 4 year college. Teachers have had to lower the bar so much average is the new excellent. Your kid is unprepared for an accredited university if she can't prepare for the SAT and get a good score. 500 for English isn't bad all that bad anyway. She'll get into a decent public university with some extracurricular activities.

      July 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • CTed

      No, it says that what she is being taught at her school lags behind the nation in general. That's the point of the SAT, to normalize students when schools inflate grades and give everyone an A for effort.

      July 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • your daddy

      May be your daughter's school is easy to get A. Other wise she would do very well on the sat test.

      July 22, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Emma

      ...Or maybe she just isn't as smart as you thought she was. Public schools, ever 'top' public schools, inflate grades to protect students' self esteem. I also went to one of those 'top' high schools, and nearly everyone there was on honor role. Guess how I distinguished myself? I scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

      Just because she didn't get the score you wanted doesn't mean the whole system is invalid. It just means that the exam gave you an actual idea of how her problem solving skills compare nationally.

      July 22, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Boring

      Not really- it says that your daughter's school is not as top-ranked as you thought it was. The As she got in her "top-notch" math class were not really As. They were more like a B or even a C at a better school. The SATs are needed to equalize the grade inflation that has occurred at her school.

      July 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  34. ng

    Why would you have the vice president of the SAT write this? In other news, Ted Nugent is against gun control and Tony the Tiger thinks Frosted Flakes are grrrrreat!

    July 21, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  35. Ethnic Man

    The SAT is a racist exam. White people generally score higher on the verbal section. I did above average on the SAT, but would have do much better if it was not for the verbal section. I also had to deal with another racist exam the MCAT which has a verbal reasoning section. My white friends seemed to get an edge on me regarding the verbal section and every point counts when trying to get into medical. It's that slight edge that helps the "white" people to get in while the "others" -non-official minorities have to settle for less. For the record, I am a physician specialist. However, I had to work a lot harder to get to this point then my "white" friends.

    July 21, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • cb

      It is only "racist" if you define racism as differences between the races. Hmm.

      July 21, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • jamest297

      I can see from your post why your whihte friends might have performed better on an objective measure of verbal reading, writing and thinking skills.

      July 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • CTed

      BS... the test is not racist. How in the world can it be racist when it examines math and the english language. If you didn't learn to speak proper english then you won't do as well, that's not racist.

      Point in fact... you can't get into "Medical"... you can only get into medical school.... You didn't do as well on the verbal section... hmmmmmmm

      July 21, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Jane Mars

      It's not race, but it certainly is linguistics and culture. There's a mountain of evidence that children of color tend to grow up in homes with different uses of language than middle class white kids. This is both dialect (dominant white middle American English vs, for instance, Black English/Ebonics) and just language use–how kids are taught to answer questions, tell stories, etc. A disproportionate high number of teachers are of the dominant group (middle class white people), so children of color find themselves a "step behind" from the beginning of school because the dominant language and linguistic forms of those of middle class white people, and they are several years behind in learning them. So the test isn't "racist", but it does represent that dominant linguistic pattern (the fact that it's the dominant pattern is, of course, about power and privilege), thus systematically disadvantaging people who aren't fluent in the dominant dialect of American English and its linguistic usages.

      July 22, 2012 at 12:40 am |
      • Desert dweller

        Jane Mars: why is it only black children who suffer this linguistic disadvantage? (Are you aware of the flap created by the Oakland Board of Education in California when they announce that blacks spoke Ebonics, and that it was "genetically based"? all ethnic groups have their own language backgrounds and language usage. So, using this as an excuse for doing poorly in school or in testing is a red herring.

        July 23, 2012 at 3:20 am |
      • HS parent

        I wouldn't say the test is racist, but it can be socially biased. Consider this, when I went through some of my child's math tests, one of the questions that tests the coordination system asks if you're in a stadium and you need to move from your seat from a certain row to another seat in another row, which direction (in the x,y coordinate) do you have to move?

        I have an engineering degree. I've been to a couple of stadiums in my lifetime, and it took me a couple of minutes to figure it out. Perhaps other "normal" teenagers who often have attended sporting events or concerts can figure it out instantly, but my child has never been to one, I don't know how he can solve the problem quickly without knowing how the seatings are arranged in a stadium.

        The SAT tests may not include this problem exactly, but you can see how easy it is for a test designer who has been exposed to a certain upbringing can ask a seemingly innocent, valid question that is biased to a certain population.

        July 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • ytuque

      Perhaps, your verbal skills are not up to scratch?

      July 22, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Emma

      Is the English portion racist because it uses proper English and not slang? If you live in America and speak our language, then you are not at a disadvantage.

      July 22, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Greg

      It is not racist. However, the language used on these tests is standard American English. So, yes, foreign born students, and certain cultures might be at a disadvantage. That's the way the cookie crumbles. A white child born in poor appalachia is not better off than black child growing in a wealthy suburb. If you are good with language you will adapt.

      July 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • LM

      You're English and logic are so poor I can't even figure out what it is you do for a living. Assuming you are actually a physician in some sort of specialty, I most definitely do not want you treating me. I wouldn't trust someone who studied medicine in Spain but barely spoke or read Spanish either – I want my medical staff to speak and understand the language of instruction not just fluently but at an advanced level. It's my life we're talking about.

      July 23, 2012 at 7:46 am |
      • LM

        And yes, I see the typo in my own post (people here tend to rant on those things as some sort of proof). Note that I scored in the top 1% in English and still make typos. It's very scary what the barely English literate can do. As a TA in grad school I saw English that if written in a prescription could have killed people.

        July 23, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  36. winkum

    Other than the writing portion, the rest of the SAT is really a test of the ability to 'learn by rote,' as evidenced by the many firms that offer SAT practice sessions, the number of publications that offer SAT performance improvement and so on.

    Now, learning by rote is not necessarily bad, indeed many of us who grew up in the 20's, 30's and 40's learned much of what we did by rote learning. The daily spelling tests, arithmetic via the 'times tables,' flash cards, history as a series of memorized dates/events, the Dick and Jane reading series as well as constant True/False and Multiple Guess (aka Choice) testing are all components of rote learning.

    True, there were a few, remarkably few, students that simply did not learn in this educational environment, but the vast majority did. And we went on to form the basis for the most dramatic surge of national progress ever seen during the late 40's and 50's and 60's. Most, if not all, of our science and technology triumphs our country enjoyed in that period were driven by graduates who were taught in this manner during their K-12 years.

    Today, rote learning is a somewhat tarnished method of teaching and derided by the 'progressive' educator. However, I maintain that there are many subjects for which rote learning is a superior method and we should return to that model at least in the early part of a child's education.

    July 21, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • c s

      The great surge in the 1950s and 1960s was mostly caused by the GI bill from WW II. It allowed millions of military veterans to have access to college. My uncle was able to become an accountant due to the GI bill because it paid for his college tuition, living expenses, books and everything else associated with college. There is absolutely no way he could have gone to college without the GI bill. One of the key features of the WW II GI bill is it allowed the veteran to attend any college and it would pay the tuition. This allowed veterans to attend Ivy League college for the first time. Later GI bills were given much less generous plans. Even the current GI bill is less generous than the WW II GI bill.

      July 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Jo Ann

      While the SAT does have its faults, I don't think rote learning is one of them. The reading portion tests comprehension and includes questions in which students must essentially read between the lines and deduce the author's motives or intent. The math portion now includes free response questions in which students are not given multiple choice answers to choose from, but must demonstrate that they can figure out a problem. The writing portion is not graded primarily on spelling or grammar, but rather on the student's ability to make a coherent argument. Doesn't really sound like rote learning,does it?

      July 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  37. Joe

    I got 740 verbal and 540 math. And to clarify I was serving as a US army ranger and had not taken a shower in six days, nor slept more than three hours in a row in the previous week. Me an four other rangers took the exam to get three hot meals and a break from soldering.

    The SAT as opposed to GPA demonstrates an individual's ability as opposed to ability to cheat, copy another's work, etc.

    I may have gotten quite a few C's in my pursuit of an economics degree (A's in my philosophy minor) but I EARNED THOSE C's. As well as my military achievements.

    July 21, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • vladislav596

      Joe, you have a bright future ahead. I'd hire you in a NY minute.

      July 23, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  38. woodie

    The SAT was a poor predictor in my case. It is a seriously flawed measure of potential. It is time people realize this and move on to better methods. There is no test that can show intelligence and no test that can predict success in college. The human mind is vastly more complex than that. It is time to bring education out of the dark ages.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • LM

      The problem is that these "better methods" you want people to use simply don't exist. We have a large collection of imperfect tools, one of which is the SAT. It certainly should not be the only one, but it is necessary to balance all the other equally flawed measures. Life's not perfect, but some students do have more potential to succeed than others, and using all these predictors together is a heck of a lot better than entering student names in a lottery to see who gets to attend Harvard.

      July 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
      • Dan

        Correct LM,

        There need to be standardized methods of evaluation. The SAT is not perfect, but it is still necessary. If everyone went to the same high school, it would not be quite as important. Actually, it would still be necessary even then. We need ways to measure talent, and the SAT is one of those.

        If you think the SAT is hard, I don't know how you will pass an actuary exam.

        July 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  39. Jacob

    Exactly my point. I had a 2.0 and a 1150 in high school. In college I went 3.57 – BBA, 3.6 – MBA, 3.6 Ph.D. I had to start at a crap college because of the stigma around standardized tests, but I finished at Cornell because work ethic and maturity more than make up for a few good guesses on a multiple choice test. As a graduate assistant I had the opportunity to grade undergrad papers... Holy crap is there ever a gap in real world writing/communication ability vs. who received a scholarship.

    July 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Jason

      Hey..I went to Cornell too! Agree with you point as well.

      July 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • jamest297

      What is your point. Are you thinking that Cornell is a status college of some kind. There are better high schools in Kentucky!

      July 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • CTed

      Yeah it was the 1150 that put you in a crap school... not the 2.0 GPA in HS...

      July 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  40. Sarah

    I don't understand- I got a 1060 on the SATs, which is (let's face it) bad.
    I graduated from high school with over a 4.0 and from a four year university with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Dean's list the whole way. PLEASE EXPLAIN.

    July 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Leftcoastrocky

      Which university? And what major?

      July 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Dan


      You are not telling me what your major was.

      You are not telling me what school you went to.

      You might be someone who is a hard worker, and a diligent student. The SAT's can't test that.

      If you think that you're one example disproves any sort of thesis, well you obviously didn't major in statistics or math.

      Being a good student does not make someone smart. Being smart does not make someone a hardworking or attentive student. Anyone who gets a perfect score on their SAT's is clearly brilliant, but if they don't go to class they will not succeed. Such people are NOT evidence that the SAT does not work, they are evidence that no matter how smart someone is, if they don't try they won't succeed.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  41. Jacob

    I'm just not buying it folks. I graduated from high school thirteen years ago. The top four graduates in my class failed out of college or quit after one year. The guy who scored perfect on the SAT partied his way out after a year and a half. I love telling people who I know or work with that I graduated second from the bottom in high school and now have a Ph.D. in economics. The girl who was immediately in front of me with a 2.01 GPA and the guy directly behind me who had a 1.98 are now lawyers. You see, in high school we acted like idiots. By college we knew what to expect. Many of the "smart" kids acted like unleashed animals, in college, and simply couldn't cope with the peer pressures and lack of adult supervision. The truth is nobody has any clue who will be successful in life or who will not. A test I took at 16 certainly is not a good gauge of who I would become.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • lzrsfx

      2.0 in higschool, 1100 SAT. Electrical Engineer from top 25 engineering school in U.S.. College admissions people know its a crap shoot, why bother with the arbitrary nonsense? You might as well brand the stupids and the smarts with branding iron. We have a great many things going for our higher education, but it's plagued by a selection process that emulates sorority houses. F the SAT.

      July 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  42. ludvig

    I agree with the lady. The SAT is a way to compare people who went to different high schools. I know of a student who went to my University but a different high school and was told that he was very smart by another person who went to that high school. He flunked out of our college after one semester with a 0.0 GPA. He did go to another tech school and became a computer programmer.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  43. DCPam

    You go to high school for four years and a test that you take for 3 hours counts more than your transcripts. I'm sorry...I don't buy this woman's argument.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Ifeelthat

      My kids did above average in the SAT. Both kids were given the same opportunities. They were average in Middleschool but both got to above average levels in their high school. Their SAT scores do reflect their performance during highschool. They further excelled even more in their college years. I had heard that SAT scores do not reflect the true capability of a child. I look around my friends and their kids and I have rarely heard a friend whose kid performed well in school and did not make a good SAT score.

      July 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
      • Ifeelthat

        I would like to add that both my kids went for interviews for scholarships and it is interesting to sae what colleges use to evaluate an applicant. And with my sons experiences I got the impression that SAT scores were not only criteria. They both were awarded lots of scholarships. Their consistent participation (Not winning) in the science fairs, consistent volunteering, and SPORTS (varsity team players ) were apparently guaged. I was told that some colleges will go as far as add 100 points to your SAT if you are a Varsity player in your high school. Even if that were an exxagerated figure I would surely think there is some truth to it as I know of kids that had better SAT's than my sons and did not get the same level of scholarships. Though things turned out fine for my sons I feel it is very confusing to have so many parameters to consider for admissions both from the admission committee's point and the applicant.

        July 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  44. collegedirection

    As a private college counselor, I do believe there is some merit in the SAT and ACT tests. I see students from different high schools in the Denver-Metro area and it is amazing how they vary in terms of academic quality and grading. The SAT and ACT scores provide colleges with another set of data which helps them to further evaluate a student's capabilities and chances for a successful academic experience. They are not the most important factor for college admission, but I see how they play a role.

    July 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  45. Price Should Be The Least Of Your Worries

    Despite what anyone who complains about the cost of taking the SAT may think, the price is not high, at all.

    The base price is $49 per administration (look it up), and ancillary costs such as late registration, score choice, etc., increase that base. Having said all that, even if you buy the Full Monty, including late fees, you'll still pay less than the cost of today's most trendy smartphone, tennis shoes, or other teenage must-have. I'd bet that most of those who whine about the price are doing so on a $400 iPhone...

    As for (admissions) tests, in general, they are made for colleges to consider all students, not just affluent ones from private schools. You don't have to pay $$$ for test prep to do well. Those who study/practice/become familiar with the exam and its contents (regardless of cost- your local public library has tons of free resources) will always perform better than those who don't. Preparation and practice is necessary to become successful in ANYTHING! Along that same line of thought, I, for one, wouldn't want a surgeon to operate on me if he/she had not scored well on their SAT and MCAT. Why? Not because they weren't talented enough to do well, but because they hadn't put in the TIME and effort it takes to succeed. Would you?

    July 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  46. hank hill

    The SAT is the single most worthless exam I have ever taken.

    The SAT simply tests a persons ability to take a test, specifically, the SAT. It puts people on equal footing in the same sense that public education is on level footing with private education. Many people pay to take SAT prep courses and buy prep books which, from what I've heard are extremely useful (I bought a book which claimed to increase test scores on average by 100 points and it did put me in that ball park). I think that the contents of the book speak volumes about the test: it never covered actual information, but rather it covered how to take the test. It taught me little tips and tricks to guessing rather than how or why the answer is what it is. If knowledge was important for passing the SAT, then it would be taught.

    Furthermore, the time constraints make it difficult to express knowledge. There are people who could show extreme intelligence if the time constraints were lifted but they will ultimately be looked over by colleges.

    I will say the SAT did give me a good idea of college: the introductory courses I took were pretty much crap, just like the test! Also, the people I knew who did well on the SAT weren't particularly smart anyway, they just understood how to 'do school'.

    July 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Pat Savu

      Yes, it's true the SAT measures how well you can take a test and manage your time. Those of us who respond to adreneline with a burst of activity get better scores than those who do not. I used to be really good in the English and reading section, becasue the real key to finisshing in the amount ot time allowed was to not read at all, but to skim. 90% of the questions coudl be answerd corectly with that, and the other 10% you coud go back and skim until you found the answer. But then again many college exams were also jsut like this.

      July 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  47. Ted Ward

    Since public school unionized teachers deplore and avoid "teaching to the test" of NCLB in order to avoid their own accountability, the students must nevertheless take the test, the SAT to get into college. Sadly, many won't be prepared thanks to their lame teachers and their union.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Barbra & Jack Donachy

      Ted, NCLB testing and the SAT are not related (at least not in the way you seem to believe). All of the democratic countries that outperform the U.S. in education have strong teachers' unions.

      July 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  48. Cristiano

    All of these points are entirely unreasonable, with the possible exception of point "five" which also is not entirely correct as those that can afford test prep often score higher.

    Everything that ETS has produced in their tenure as outsourced education key-holder extrodinare has been garbage, the crowning product being the GRE.

    The fact that this company is considered a "non-profit" and pays zero corporate income tax is an abomination. They are as much of an agressive corporate buisness model as an investment bank and have managed to hijack something as critical as COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE.

    The College Board has apparently taken over as of late but still use ETS to administer the tests. Bleth.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  49. Kevin

    Tests like the SAT and ACT are good indicators of the general intelligence level of a person. However, like the article says it should not be the number 1 thing looked at. I went to high school with a kid that didn't do his homework, never tried, and couldn't play football for a game because he GPA was too close to a 2.0 (my high school had a strict eligibility rule). He got a 34 on his ACT. All that proved was that he was just smart. He was also lazy and didn't care about school. College admissions did look at that because he ended up at a smaller school than most of the rest of us in the group who did work hard in school, even through the busy work. You also run into kids with test anxiety, which is just unfortunate for some because they do well in school and then freak out during tests. The tests can tell you a lot, but not the entire story. That's why the other components of a persons resume is important.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  50. Dave

    I showed up to school one day in 11th grade, and apparently we were talking the ACT that day (in Colorado, where we took it in place of a regular school day). I had forgotten it was coming, didn't do any prep, and had a whopping 3.0 HSGPA. Got in the 94th percentile, went to a great school, got an MBA, and now work a 100k job 4 years out of undergrad.

    Test scores are, in my opinion, way better than GPA as far as a measuring someone's liklihood to succeed. High school is hoop jumping, buzy work, and a waste of 90% of the time there. Put people in a situation where they have to perform or there are actual concequences (like college where you can fail out, or work where you can get fired) and you will quickly be able to distinguish between the dummies, the slackers, and the people that can identify what is important, use their brain, and get the job done.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  51. jack putzer

    Did you know that the teachers go over whats on the test weeks before...Maybe catch the school off guard to really see what the kids actually soak in to the brain. these kids today can't even write,much less take a. test, to make the schools look good. pushing the kid thru a grade doesn't help much either..........

    July 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • L

      The SAT is offered several times throughout the year and students can sign up for whatever time slot or location that is most convenient for them. Not all students take it, nor do all students who DO, take it at the same time. Therefore, teachers are actually not able to provide students with a crash course in SAT-taking a few weeks ahead of time. Maybe you're referring to state testing, which every student in every school DOES have to take, and they all do it at the same time.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Mike

      1. It takes months to prepare for the test. It's not just a test of knowledge, but one of commitment, endurance and stamina.
      2. Part of the beauty of it is that it allows the talented and committed students to stand apart from the kids who have been "pushed thru" (thanks for the fast food spelling).
      3. Any statement about "kids today" that is as poorly constructed as your comment is further proof that baby boomers are the ones who need to be de-funded.

      Gordon Gekko 2012!

      July 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
      • Mom with a BS & MBA

        That's silly. No prep is required for the smart kids to do well. They can boost their scores, but if they are truly smart, they score high anyway. Mine didn't do prep. Didn't need it. Both scored in the high 1700's & 1800s- and even better on ACT. So what? Anyone could tell you they are both intelligent. Way too much emphasis on scores & not enough on who people can become. That said, the test is not a good predictor of who will do well in life. Life is what matters, not just school.

        July 21, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  52. Anon Y Mouse

    To the people who say SAT geared for rich: Maybe, but I don't think it's so much that that you have to be rich (doesn't hurt mind you), but more important to just bring your kid up right. My dad was an alcoholic (why I'm posting this anon) and was surrounded by the 60s drug culture growing up. I didn't do well in school at all, much less any SAT. Didn't want same for kid, so read to him every day when he was a baby and brought him up in a drug and alcohol free environment. That's ALL the extra I did, except maybe bought him an out of date SAT study guide on sale once that I don't know if he looked at or not. Anyway he got almost perfect SAT scores and was admitted to a great university.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Father of 4

      Well done, Dad. Well done.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  53. Momof2kids

    SATs are a game like any other where the kids with the money win. I know parents who spend thousands of dollars on getting their kids into courses (like Kaplan test prep) that practically guarantee the kids will get scores hundreds of points higher than kids who don't take the classes.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Mike

      No, those prep courses only help you if you're already a bad student or a lousy test taker. I'll bet the girl in the "homeless to Harvard" story last month didn't take any high-dollar prep courses.

      No offense, but if your kids didn't do well, maybe they're just not as bright as you had hoped. Don't beat yourself up over it.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  54. Alyssa

    I really don't think the SATs show much of anything at all. The reality is if you buy one of those books and spend a summer privately studying for the test OR you spend a crazy amount of $ and do one of those classes you will learn how to BEAT the SAT. I took it back in the 90s and went the 'study through the summer route'...I managed a 1410 (out of 1600 at the time) and let me tell you- I'm not 'brilliant'.....all it took was some studying and doing practice tests. I did graduate college but my SAT score had little to do with it IMHO. If you put in the work- it's not hard to get a great score. A high score generally means you studied for it; not that you will do great in college.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Mike

      "A high score usually means that you studied for it." This is exactly why the test works! It shows whether you are a committed student who is ready for the rigors of college level work. It's more a test of maturity than intelligence.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  55. barbara

    She has to defend this program or she wouldn't have a job! SAT's and all the prep programs are HUGE money makers.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  56. jcs

    "1. The SAT has a proven track record as a fair and valid predictor of first-year college success for all students, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status." How does one define "fair and valid?" Those students who grow up in a home where their parents foster learning, can afford to pay for all kinds of educational activities & trips over the child's lifetime, and can afford to pay the hefty fees for SAT prep courses are likely to do better than those of lower socio-economic backgrounds who never had the advantages to get ahead, to be exposed to the greater world out there, and to be inculcated with educational values throughout childhood.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • else

      They'll do better on these tests, yes – but they'll also do better in college and work and life. It's not fair that some students don't have families that have the resources and capacity to give them those advantages, but there's no denying that being raised in a way that supports intellectual and academic growth makes you more likely to succeed in every aspect of life. I think worrying about how to get the students with the poorer foundations a better foundation in the first place is better for everyone than trying to reduce the level of skill and knowledge necessary for college. The very very high fees for the

      July 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • else

      They'll do better on these tests, yes – but they'll also do better in college and work and life. It's not fair that some students don't have families that have the resources and capacity to give them those advantages, but there's no denying that being raised in a way that supports intellectual and academic growth makes you more likely to succeed in every aspect of life. I think worrying about how to get the students with the poorer foundations a better foundation in the first place is better for everyone than trying to reduce the level of skill and knowledge necessary for college.

      The very very high fees for the SAT are another matter, however...

      July 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • sherry

      I have no idea where she is measuring all that "first year success", but I raised my children in a pretty urban area, where they attended schools which had student bodies made up of fairly affluent families. The local community colleges always had a huge influx of new students in January after all those "well-prepared for first year success" students flunked out of the colleges and universities they got into. Of course I am sure their inflated SAT scores achieved through expensive tutoring had nothing to do with their inability to pass a class in the first semester at those colleges and universities. Must have been a coincidence.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  57. Dean

    Education was much better before SAT was even invented.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  58. cks

    But of course an executive for the testing service would trumpet reasons why the SAT matters. One can also view this as an unpaid advertisement for the SAT – note that she trumpets that SAT does provide fee waivers for some. However, the high price charged for the SAT – how much has it increased in the last twenty years – and the push to take it several times has made it a very successful industry. However some colleges are pushing back – have decided not to rely on the SAT (or its cousin the ACT) as a part of the admissions requirements. I wonder if this is part of a campaign to counter this turn of events.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  59. adh

    Bliggety Blah Blah Blah...

    July 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |