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HomeIllinois NewsThe SAT’s New ‘Adversity Score’ Isn’t Just Unfair. It’s Self-Destructive.

The SAT’s New ‘Adversity Score’ Isn’t Just Unfair. It’s Self-Destructive.




Testing or social engineering? Kenny Xu on the College Board’s decision to apply an “adversity score” to the SAT:

It may well be true that schools should factor in a student’s circumstances in their selection process, but it is not the College Board’s job to decide whose life is more difficult than another’s, especially without personally consulting the student.

Rather, it is the student’s job to use the personal statement to highlight his best qualities in the most challenging of circumstances. An adversity score would pigeonhole a student before he even gets the chance to speak for himself.

The absurd thing about this whole initiative is that the College Board was founded and still functions primarily as a test-taking service. When people take tests, they should not expect the bar to be set lower for them. But the College Board is now moving the goalposts for every person who takes the SAT, thus betraying the very purpose of its main product.

Despite the anti-SAT brouhaha that has emerged over the past few years, an objective standard of merit is still necessary to conduct a functioning college-admissions system. There must be a way for colleges to adjudicate between students with similar grades at different schools. Otherwise, they risk admitting a student who would not fit intellectually with the rest of the class.

For a long time, the College Board defended the SAT as the test to fit this role of objective gatekeeper. It’s simply not possible to take this argument seriously if the SAT’s own parent organization says it needs an “adversity balancer.”

The SAT is not a perfect predictor of scholastic capability, but there’s a strong case to be made that is a necessary feature of a societally beneficial college-admissions system. The College Board just gave up on defending that argument—and with it, the rationale for the relevance of its own test. 

[Kenny Xu, “The SAT’s New ‘Adversity Score’ Isn’t Just Unfair. It’s Self-Destructive.“ The Daily Signal, May 22]


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