Colleges Rely on Biased SAT/ACT


Sabrina Abesamis, Opinion Editor

As seniors start to experience the pressure of college applications this fall, almost every single one will be sending in an SAT or ACT score along with their résumé. The mere mention of these standardized tests usually brings fear into the eyes of a majority of high school upperclassmen. However, many experts are beginning to question whether the stress and preparation required for these tests are even worth the results.

Numerous studies have claimed that SAT/ACT scores are actually inaccurate and imprecise indicators of an applicants’ ability and do not deserve the emphasis placed on results in college admissions and scholarships.

A 2003 Harvard study comparing the SAT scores of white and nonwhite groups concluded there was a racial bias between the two. An Education Testing Service study conducted in 1994 also found that SAT scores under-predicted the college performance of females and over-predicted that of males, showing a gender bias as well.

In addition, it is widely accepted that students with higher family incomes generally have higher SAT/ACT scores because they can afford the rigorous, but expensive, prep classes. Though College Board, the organization that administers the SATs, claims these classes do not greatly affect scores, it does not stop them from offering their own coaching courses too. The lesson plan of these courses, which usually teach strategic guessing methods, proves the SAT is not an accurate prediction of a student’s actual intelligence.

“The things that the SAT doesn’t really measure are things like motivation, tenacity, and work ethic,” says Christopher Hooker-Haring, the dean of admissions of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.

The prevalence of the SAT and ACT indicates they are not going anywhere anytime soon. However, it is important for colleges to also recognize the values and skills these scores can not assess.