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The SAT Is Still A Valuable Metric for Colleges

The SAT Is Still A Valuable Metric for Colleges

The SAT Is Still A Valuable Metric for Colleges


Contributing Writer

January 18, 2024

Tate Collins '27

Students’ SAT scores have long been key elements of their college applications. However, in recent years, many have questioned just how accurate or relevant the SAT is as a measure of students’ academic success. With increased sensitivity to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as the recent pandemic, many colleges have become test optional. While there are inequality issues with the SAT, there are similar issues with all factors colleges consider during the admissions process, and the SAT is just too valuable a measure to eliminate. 

A recent study by Drs. Michele Tine and Bruce Sacerdote of Dartmouth, and Dr. John Friedman of Brown, demonstrates the continued relevance of the SAT as a predictor of academic achievement. The report looked at data from the Ivy Plus Colleges (the Ivies, along with top schools like UChicago, MIT, and Stanford). The study showed little correlation between high school GPAs and academic achievement in college. However, it did find a positive correlation between SAT scores and success. (The study defines success as “college performance” in terms of GPA). Another study by Friedman and Economic professors Dr. Jay Chetty and David Deming of Harvard found further proof of the relationship between strong SAT scores and success after high school. (Their study defined success after high school as “attending an elite graduate school” and “working at a prestigious firm”). 

It is true that there are equity issues with the SAT. The Princeton Review released a study of 10,000 students showing that students who engaged in test preparation activities scored an average of 100 points higher on standardized tests than those who did not. Not everyone has equal access to tutoring or SAT preparation courses. Privileged students often have the opportunity to use preparation resources such as tutoring, meaning they will, according to the study, perform higher on the SAT than underprivileged students. 

However, making the SAT optional does not solve the most pressing inequality issues in college applications. Wealth disparities impact all areas of the application process, not only access to test preparation. Take extracurricular activities—students’ athletic and musical successes can be improved with paid coaching. Yet no one is suggesting colleges ignore students’ athletic and musical talents because not everyone has equal access to that coaching. Or consider a more academic example—many students get tutoring to improve performance in their classes, but colleges are not considering going GPA-optional. 

At the end of the day, while there are inequality issues with the SAT, there are similar issues with all parts of students’ applications. The SAT is just too valuable and accurate an indication of a student’s academic potential to eliminate.

Tate Collins is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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