SAT scores may not predict student outcomes

On March 5 the College Board, distributors of the SAT standardized test, stated that they will remove the essay portion of their test and will change the advanced vocabulary in the tests wording.

This change will go into affect by 2016 and was made in part because the SAT is falling behind the rival ACT, which has an optional essay.

Nearly 875 colleges and universities don’t require students to submit an SAT or ACT test score. Many schools make this decision because of the belief that minority students from disadvantaged backgrounds typically do not perform well on these tests.

The SAT and ACT have been used in college admissions since they were created in 1901 and 1959, respectively. But what do these test scores tell us about the academic performance of a student in college? Not what you would expect, according to experts in the field of higher education.

“The strongest correlation between standardized test score and any other factor for a student is family income,” said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. Data from the National Center of Education Statistics also shows how standardized test score increases along with family income.

The greatest predictor of college success lies predominately in the high school transcript and GPA of a student.

The inclusion of the SAT and ACT score still factors heavily into most colleges admissions process, however, causing trouble for the college-bound minority students.

The College Board found in 2013 that only 15 percent of black and 23 percent of Latino students met or exceeded the SAT benchmark in the previous year. These statistics are consistent with general trends in both SAT and ACT tests.

Black and Latino minority students from low-income families do not perform as well on the SAT and ACT.

This contributes to the alarming trend in higher education of racial inequality among highly selective colleges versus two-year open-access schools.

Many factors contribute to the flaws in the current education system of the United States. While together these factors are complex and not easily solvable, there seems to be a clear answer to whether the SAT and ACT are relevant to the college admissions process. They are not.

A report from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling urged colleges to rethink their use of the SAT and ACT in admissions back in 2008.

The recent success of freshman who enrolled without including test scores in their admissions process only further proves that these tests are not indicators of college-readiness.

Similarly, these tests limit black and Latino students from reaching the same level of higher education as white students, a problem created by inequality in access to educational resources.

Lower test scores, however, make the admissions packages of these students less desirable for no strong reason pertaining to college-readiness.

The College Board also announced that it will be posting free SAT-prep classes online, allowing students who don’t have the money to attend prep classes the opportunity to perform better on the test.

The SAT and ACT are not indicators of college success and should not be treated as such.

More attention needs to be paid to how standardized test scores are used in admissions and what student skills they are measuring.

This will aid U.S. colleges in helping to correct the problem of inequality among minorities in higher education.

Olivia Marovich / News editor

Olivia Marovich can be reached at