BY CHRIS GOMES
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has infamously become one of the primary gatekeepers in college admissions, often determining whether a student is admitted into a university. Although the uses of the SAT have changed since its debut in 1926, its “gatekeeper” status remains today. However, it appears that the College Board is trying to make the exam fairer for everyone.
The College Board, the organization that distributes the SAT, has begun to implement a new adversity score based on a student’s socioeconomic circumstances, with the initial prototype being tested at Florida State University (FSU).
“I think it’s a good idea,” sophomore Emily Ching said. “It takes in[to] consideration what the quality of education may be like and if families can afford … to improve their child’s quality of learning.”
This new adversity score comes after years of criticism towards College Board, which claims they tend to appeal to wealthier segments of the population, that thus on average have relatively better scores. The College Board’s new index displays up to 31 factors aimed at highlighting one’s environmental advantages and disadvantages. However, the new scoring does not include race, as it would violate some states’ regulations.
“I think the adversity score oversimplifies a more complex issue.”
“This is a tool designed for admission officers to view a student’s academic accomplishment in the context of where they live and learn,” a spokeswoman for the College Board said.
John Barnhill, assistant vice president for enrollment management at FSU, says that the information is helpful to admission officers and provides context that helps admit disadvantaged students. But not everyone shares this sentiment.
“I think the adversity score oversimplifies a more complex issue,” sophomore Addison Roberts said. “The idea of helping disenfranchised youths get ahead in education is great, but privileged students should not [be] brought down because of their background.”
One feature notably missing from the new adversity score, whether it be for better or worse, is that students and parents cannot view this score, with colleges and universities being the only institutions with access.
Many skeptics argue that a numeral score based on a student’s socioeconomic status cannot completely identify the struggles of a student.
Students and parents cannot view this score, with colleges and universities being the only institutions with access.
On the other hand, many are in support of the College Board introducing this new score, including admissions officers of some of the most prestigious colleges. For example, Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University, likes the idea of the adversity score and is choosing to implement it.
“Everyone familiar with the college admissions process understands that it’s not a level playing field,” Guttentag said. “We’re always trying to understand each applicant’s context a little better, and I think this tool will be a positive step in that direction.”
Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, says that it is a “very helpful innovation.” Much like FSU, Yale University has also used an early form of the adversity score.
While the future success of the adversity score is unknown, many believe it will be helpful to both college admissions officers and disadvantaged students alike by providing more context for students’ academic backgrounds.
Photo by The Lariat Photography