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The SATs: Out of Touch

            The SAT test is the oldest and most widely used college entrance exam. It is composed of two sections, Verbal and Math, each of which is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. There are 138 questions, almost all multiple choice, consisting of analogies, sentence completion, reading comprehension and standard math problems. The test is produced and overseen by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) under contract to the College Board. The test has been under fire since the mid 1970s after it was first widely used in the college admissions process. The debate was recently heated up again after Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California since 1995, one of the first and largest schools to use the test, proposed to make the test optional on applications for all U.C schools. Using the SATs as a criterion for college admission should be optional because it is inherently biased and focuses on a few skills rather than general knowledge and ability. .
             African Americans, Latinos, Asian American as well as other minority groups consistently score notably lower than do white students. Even blacks whose parents have the same level of education and income as a comparable sample of whites have, on average, scored 120 points lower on the test. (Cloud 42.) At every level of SAT scoring blacks earn lower grades than their white peers and "this remains true after controlling (at least crudely) for other variables, including high school grades and socioeconomic status." (Jencks and Phillips 458) And although females earn higher grades in high school and college, in 2002 their sat scores were 39 points lower than males. The College Board attributes the racial test score gap to the "different education opportunities the students have." (Wirtz et al. 32) Strict use of the SAT as a standard for admissions will make it more difficult for such students to get into good schools and will create incoming freshman classes that are not especially diverse.

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