It is Time for the SAT to Go

The SAT gives an unfair advantage to students with resources, and there are better options outside of this particular standardized test. The SAT has to go.


As the world was thrown into turmoil by the Covid-19 pandemic, many colleges suspended their SAT requirements for admissions, offering students the choice to opt out of the infamous standardized test.

Some, such as MIT, treated this as a temporary policy to be reversed as the world returned to normal. However, many argue that schools were right to make standardized testing optional and that these policies should be implemented permanently. The eventual goal, however, should be to eliminate the SAT in its entirety

Since before the pandemic, it has been well established that the SAT provides an unfair advantage to affluent, more privileged students (typically Asian/Caucasian) who can afford to enroll in expensive test prep courses and take the SAT multiple times to procure better scores. 

These stark discrepancies in contextual performance are made evident through the College Board’s own statistics, which, in 2019, reported average scores of 1114 and 1223 for White and Asian students, respectively. Meanwhile, the mean scores for Black and Latino students, whose ethnic groups have suffered a history of poverty and educational discrimination, were 933 and 978—an average of 213 points lower.

These massive differences in student performance call into question the fundamental validity of the test. As Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University states, the SAT “provides a shiny scientific cover for a system of inequality that guarantees that rich kids go to the most selective college.”

grades are the best single predictor of college performance and aren’t as heavily influenced as the standardized exams by income, parent education levels and race [as the SAT].

So, if the SAT is a flawed means of student evaluation, what’s the alternative? Studies have shown that high school GPA is a superior indicator of college performance than the SAT. Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times, who analyzed several studies, concluded that “grades are the best single predictor of college performance and aren’t as heavily influenced as the standardized exams by income, parent education levels and race [as the SAT].”

This is not to say that GPA is a flawless metric; it can be influenced by factors such as grade inflation and disparities in quality of education. However, these problems can be tackled through educational reforms (such as increased funding for lower income schools and higher quality teaching). Moreover, such policies would also come with the benefit of improving America’s quality of education as a whole. 

The SAT suffers from a problem with no true solution: standardized testing can never purely measure intelligence or ability. Test taking is ultimately an exploitable skill, and there will never be a one-to-one correlation between SAT proficiency and overall academic potential. If this were the case, then why would we have countless tutoring services touting their ability to inflate students’ scores and get them into their dream school?

The most prudent course of action might instead be to refocus attention and resources on improving the quality of education for disadvantaged students. This would require years of dedication and tangible government action. If executed properly, we would eventually reach a point where GPA and overall school performance are sufficient academic gauges for the college admissions process, finally rendering the SAT worthless.