As the former dean of admission of a highly selective university and now a vice president of the College Board, I don’t think the SAT needs to be harder to meet the needs of the nation’s most highly selective institutions. The Commentary, “The SAT Needs to Be Harder,” (July 24, 2012) overstates the proportion of top performers on the SAT and does not mention additional options already available to admissions officers who seek further information about the academic preparedness of students applying to our nation’s most selective colleges and universities.
Only 384 of the 1.65 million students in the class of 2011 who took the SAT earned the highest possible score of 2400. Only 7,219 (0.4 percent) earned a score of 2300 or higher, and 25,585 (1.5 percent) achieved 2200 or higher.
Applicants with top grades in rigorous high school academic programs and high SAT scores are likely to be very successful college students, and the SAT helps identify such students. But changing the SAT to create further distinctions among the test’s top performers will not provide greater insight into the personal qualities colleges consider in the admission-evaluation process.
Colleges and universities can utilize SAT subject tests and Advanced Placement exams to gain a better understanding of a student’s academic achievement and future potential. SAT subject tests measure achievement in 20 subjects, including advanced mathematics, natural sciences, and world languages, while AP exams assess a high school student’s ability to complete college-level work.
More than half of SAT-takers from the class of 2011 did not meet the SAT college- and career-readiness benchmark. Instead of worrying about making the SAT more difficult for the top 1 percent of students, let’s focus on helping the 57 percent of students who did not meet the benchmark become more academically prepared to succeed in college.
Vice President of Relationship Development
The College Board
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the August 08, 2012 edition of Education Week as College Board Responds To SAT Commentary