The SAT has both current and historical inequalities

By: Grace Mundycalculator-scientific

Today the SAT is an essential step for high school students furthering their education through college. For many, it is an exam worth time and money to prepare for, as it is a common belief that a better SAT score leads to admissions to better schools, which consequently leads to a better future. The SAT, administered by The College Board, is a highly competitive and intense exam, prompting students to hire private tutors, enroll in expensive prep courses, or purchase workbooks designed for preparing for the test. 

But, what about the students who don’t have access to these test-preparation resources? According to the Washington Post, there is a consistent link in data that shows students from higher income families have better scores than students from lower income families. Simply put, the more money a students’ family has, the better scores he/she will likely achieve. 

This is just one of the many issues with the SAT.  However, perhaps the problems originate from the beginnings of the exam itself. According to The Atlantic, the SAT was originally created to attempt to prove the racial inferiority of immigrants and people of color. 

“The original Scholastic Aptitude Test was invented in 1926 by Carl Brigham, a Princeton alumnus and avowed eugenicist who created the test to uphold a racial caste system. He advanced this theory of standardized testing as a means of upholding racial purity in his book A Study of American Intelligence. The tests, he wrote, would prove the racial superiority of white Americans,” Sidney Fussell writes in her article “The Problem With the SAT’s Idea of Objectivity.”


The SAT was created as a way to disadvantage minority groups, and to an extent, it still does this today.

“I’m just disappointed in College Board and the educational system overall,” junior Rachel Lee said.

In addition, there are cultural inequalities associated with the SAT as well. According to the Huffington Post, studies have shown that the wording of questions may have different cultural interpretations for different students.

“These so-called objective numbers [scores] are very easily manipulated in a way that creates a tilted playing field,” Public education director of FairTest Bob Schaeffer said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  FairTest is an organization that addresses issues with fairness and accuracy of testing.

However, many are beginning to recognize the inequality that the SAT promotes. As a way to counter these unequal admissions, the College Board is beginning to adopt a new system to obtain better information about a student’s background. Colleges will use this information when admitting applicants.

This system, called Landscape, has divided many, from college-admissions employees to the students applying. Many argue that this system is important to even the playing field for college admissions. However, some believe that giving someone’s level of privilege a numerical score disregards the complex historical issues associated with privilege.

Though Landscape or a similar program may eventually be the solution to this problem, it is still not officially implemented in college admissions, and is not fully developed for use by colleges. We still have a long way to go when it comes to making the college admissions process fair for all students. 

In fact, this issue is part of a much greater historical problem of privilege and unequal institutions in America. We live in a country where inequality is institutional, and we must be aware of and accept this in order to fully be open to solutions to these problems and hopefully have a more equal and fair future for everyone in America.

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