Test-Day Tips


SAT Adversity Scores

The College Board, which creates the SAT, is now including an "Adversity Score" when reporting an applicant's results to colleges.

This score will include factors like the "quality of the student's high school" as well as the student's neighborhood's crime rate and poverty level.

I think this is a shady idea.

But Vince, don't you believe in "leveling the playing field"? Helping the disadvantaged? Giving those who don't have parents with the means to bribe college administrators some much needed help?

Well sure, but let's consider the downstream effects and who really benefits.

1. Colleges already take applicants' adversity into account. Many have supplemental essays designed to elicit students' tales of hardship. And they certainly already take into account how good they think high schools are.

So this (BTW private and opaque) metric can give colleges cover to use factors in admission, like race, that may soon be outlawed by a conservative Supreme Court.

Since the score is private and opaque, it's hard for us to know if it's based on good data.

2. Everything the College Board does is designed to help the College Board - you can count on that. If the CB wants to convince more states to push / require the SAT as opposed to the ACT, this new adversity score will help, since the CB can make the case that it'll get more students into college who wouldn't have otherwise applied / gotten in.

3. CB and colleges get more student data that they can use to market more effectively.

4. Smart families can game the system. 


Is this "adversity score" all bad? Maybe not - it will probably aid some students who slipped through the cracks of the current system. But given how this stands to benefit the College Board, as well as colleges, it's hard to not be skeptical.

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