College & Workforce Readiness Report Roundup

SAT Scores Linked to Adult Success

By Sean Cavanagh — September 17, 2007 1 min read

The scores of highly gifted students on a prominent college-admissions test, taken while they are of middle school age, are a good predictor of their later career accomplishments and creativity, a study shows.

Scheduled to be published in the November issue of Psychological Science, the study examines the scores of students no older than 13 who were given the SAT. It then looks at their eventual career choices and accomplishments by the time they were in their 30s. Those children were identified as being in the top 1 percent in ability.

The researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College who conducted the study found that among those high-ability test-takers, students who scored higher on the math portion of the SAT had greater career accomplishments in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students who scored better on the verbal portion were more likely to excel in humanities-related careers and accomplishments. Among both sets of students, the scores on both sections of the test were relatively high.

Based on test results from about 2,400 students, the research is part of a larger study that dates to the 1970s, said David Lubinski, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt and one of the three authors.

The study suggests that the SAT can have predictive value, Vanderbilt officials say. But it also implies that by high school, when most students take the SAT, the scores of high-ability students may be so high that it is harder to predict what their strongest talents will be as adults.

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