The SAT: Is adversity a fair test or another way to unfairly game the system

For high school juniors and seniors, performing well on the SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is crucial for admittance to their school of choice. Colleges and Universities use this exam as a standard to measures students from every part of the country and from every possible socio-economic situation.

The SAT score is very important.

Colleges often set a minimum for an applicant’s SAT score. Scoring below the minimum means acceptance is virtually impossible. Parents often spend large sums of money to have their child be more adequately prepared to take the exam.

Most conclusions say that proper tutoring usually raises an SAT score by 50 to 100 points.

Those that can afford the tutoring do have an advantage to those who can’t. However, with internet testing sites and free sample tests readily available, the advantage may be lessening. Still, issues like low income, poor quality in the high school experience and significant safety or security concerns, do negatively impact the SAT score.

To level the playing field, the College Board, who oversees the exam, plans to assign an “adversity score” to every student. David Colemen, the College Board’s CEO recently wrote that the new addition,

“shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.”

College admissions must choose the next class.

Each year students apply to colleges based on a number of factors that are personally important. Quality of the education, programs offered, location, athletics, social life, and college spirit are often among the criteria. In nearly all cases, schools receive many more applications than they have available places.

The school must then decide who receives admission. They look for students who they believe will most likely be successful, have a positive learning experience and graduate ready to enter the adult world. They also look for students who will be a good fit for the school. Thay they will, therefore, contribute to the student body’s success.

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Academics are the first criteria. Each college has its own level of education rigor. For that reason, each student in the class must feel comfortable and must engage with other students who feel equally comfortable. Professors will tell you that type of environment will lead to greater success with active learning.

To judge a student’s academic performance, the school looks at the academic accomplishments; the grades received and the level of the classes taken. This is usually a good first step.

The problem is always that one high school may have a different grading policy than another. Since final grades often do consider a subjective component, comparing grades from one school to the next could lead to misinformation.

A standardized test was seen as the answer.

Taking the SAT meant that everyone took exactly the same test. Although the SAT was not a perfect indicator when measuring one student against another, it did serve as a standard.

When the school saw the score, they could see what a student had achieved. There was no mention of how hard it may have been for the student to get to that level. It seems, that by slanting the score, the standardization will be lost and comparisons will be biased.

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Certainly, from a social compassion perspective, it seems like the right to do. For those that achieved a high score while battling diversity, they know they could have done even better if they had the same opportunities as others. Don’t they deserve more?

The real problem with padding a score for compassionate reasons is the doubt about whether acceptance is merited. Or did the padding tip the scale in her favor?

My suggestion would be to write a compelling essay letting the school know your determination to achieve the right to attend. Dow you did not let adversity stop you from achieving your goals. That’s worth more than 100 points on the SAT score.

Although admittedly the SAT score is important, the schools are more concerned with the content of your character than a few points on an exam. Let’s skip the adversity score.

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 40 years. @mbusler

Dr. Busler is an economist and a public policy analyst. He is a Professor of Finance at Stockton University. His op-ed columns appear in Townhall, Newsmax.

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