Ten Myths About the SAT
1. The SAT gives all students an equal shot at college admission.
Because of the way the test is constructed, its rewards for strategic guessing, the highly-speeded pace, and cultural biases, the SAT denies African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and women equal opportunities for higher education. Research shows that when admissions offices place heavy emphasis on SAT scores - particularly when they use rigid cut-off score minimums - the number of qualified students of color and low-income students admitted goes down. What's more, using scores to award scholarships prevents students of color and women from getting their fair share of badly-needed tuition aid.
2. The SAT is only the messenger: score gaps merely reflect differences in students' academic backgrounds.
Even when students are matched for academic preparation, there are still large gender and racial gaps in their SAT scores. A federal court reviewed the test-makers' best arguments, which took into account variables such as ethnicity, parental education, high school classes, and proposed college major, and concluded that "...[U]nder the most conservative studies presented in evidence, even after removing the effect of these factors, at least a 30 point combined differential [between males and females] remains unexplained."
3. SAT scores are precise, like inches on a yardstick.
The College Board's ATP Guide long stated, "Users learn to understand and appreciate the meaning of a score of 430 in the same way that they have learned to understand and appreciate the meaning of, say, 14 inches..." But it notes in other publications that the SAT's margin of error is approximately 60 points. Even more incredible, the test-makers admit that two students' scores must differ by about 120 points before anyone can be sure that the differences are meaningful. Adding to the confusion, ETS "recentered" test scores in 1995. This changed the formula used to convert raw scores into the SAT's 200-800 point scale, resulting in an average score increase of nearly 100 points. If the SAT is a "common yardstick," as the test-makers say, it must be made of elastic.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
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