The SAT should be dumped, not face-lifted

The SAT is getting a face lift. The word analogies are gone, and in their place is a writing section. However, these reformations will be like giving a new paint job to a car without a motor. In the end, it still won’t work. At its core, the SAT will remain of little real value to the college admissions process.

Used nationally by many colleges as a determinant of future collegiate success, the SAT’s maker was prompted to revise the tests because the University of California, its largest customer, threatened to discontinue its use if significant reforms were not undertaken. Last year, 1.3 million students took the SAT, many of them multiple times. This equates to a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar industry in test administration, test preparation and test opportunism. The SAT is proving to be more about money than the admissions process.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, has tried to give it a new face. Not surprisingly, the bulk of reform comes at the behest of the University of California president. He has a strict agenda to improve the American education system by forcing schools to teach directly to the test. This will further cement the SAT’s role as a godsend for lazy admissions processors. Rather than make tough choices based on a wide variety of aptitude judgments, admissions officers fall back on the far easier, and less accurate, SAT scores.

The SAT cannot measure writing ability, strategic reasoning, higher-ordered thinking skills, experience, persistence and creativity. The SAT has consistently shown its biases and might only indicate how well students take tests.

More than 400 colleges across the nation have already stopped using the SAT as an important factor in admissions. The SAT is an inherently broken test that makes futile and prejudiced assessments of a student’s entire academic career in only three hours. The SAT has failed and will continue to fail as a useful measure for admissions. It is time all colleges flunk the SAT.