Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do SAT scores help or hurt in decisions about who will do well in college?

Date:
September 13, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Every year, nervous high school juniors and seniors sit down and take the SAT. Their SAT scores will take on considerable importance over subsequent months, as college admissions teams choose incoming freshman classes. Some critics have argued that the SAT is biased against students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and new research puts that claim to the test. Findings suggest that the SAT may not be as biased as some people believe.

Every year, nervous high school juniors and seniors, clutching #2 pencils and armed with hours of test preparation, sit down and take the SAT. At their most basic, these tests focus on verbal, math, and writing ability, and performance on these tests has been linked to subsequent academic performance. As a result, college admissions teams use SAT scores along with other information, such as high school grades, in choosing their incoming freshman classes.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the SAT has been the subject of much scrutiny. Some researchers have asserted that the SAT isn't a good predictor of academic performance in college once socioeconomic status (SES) -- usually measured as a combination of parents' education and family income -- and high school grade point average are taken into account.

And some critics have argued that the SAT is fundamentally biased against students from low-SES backgrounds, acting as a barrier that prevents them from gaining admission to college.

"This was an eye catching claim," says psychological scientist Paul Sackett of the University of Minnesota. "So we set out to obtain data to examine whether that claim really held up."

Sackett and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota examined data from 143,606 students at 110 colleges and universities and contrasted their findings with data from the University of California system that had been studied in previous research.

Their findings are reported in a new article published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

They found that in all the datasets, both the SAT and high school grades contributed to predicting academic performance in college. And, contrary to previous research, taking parents' education and family income into account had little effect on the relationship between SAT scores and college performance. These findings suggest that the SAT remains a useful indicator for college admissions decisions.

Moreover, Sackett and his colleagues found that the SES of students actually enrolled in college was very similar to the SES of students who were applying to college. When they examined the data more closely and looked at the entire applicant pool, they found that fewer low-SES students were entering the college admissions process.

Based on these findings, it seems that low-SES students are not underrepresented in colleges because low SAT scores prevent them from gaining admission, but rather because fewer low-SES students apply to college in the first place.

"We view this as broadly relevant," says Sackett. "Entrance tests such as the SAT receive a great deal of public scrutiny and it is important for all involved -- students, parents, college officials -- that accurate information about how the test functions be available."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. R. Sackett, N. R. Kuncel, A. S. Beatty, J. L. Rigdon, W. Shen, T. B. Kiger. The Role of Socioeconomic Status in SAT-Grade Relationships and in College Admissions Decisions. Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612438732

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Do SAT scores help or hurt in decisions about who will do well in college?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120913141417.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, September 13). Do SAT scores help or hurt in decisions about who will do well in college?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120913141417.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Do SAT scores help or hurt in decisions about who will do well in college?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120913141417.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Sixteen large food and beverage companies in the United States that committed to cut calories in their products far surpassed their target. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins