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ERIC Number: EJ856358
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0734-6670
Behind the SAT-Optional Movement: Context and Controversy
Epstein, Jonathan P.
Journal of College Admission, n204 p8-19 Sum 2009
The advent of the modern form of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), brought to bear by the combination of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and Harvard's former president James Bryant Conant (Lemann 1999), was designed to promote the recognition of talent and intellect, wherever they may be found. Their aim was to provide greater educational access for academically gifted and accomplished students, requiring students at elite institutions to prove their worthiness by performance rather than merely by pedigree. Within a few short years, it began to clarify the distinction between social and intellectual elite. During the 1950s, use of the SAT grew rapidly. When the University of California adopted the exam in 1968, its expansion across the nation was solidified. In 1990, from a desire to move away from the idea that the test measures innate ability, its intent mid-century, the SAT changed its acronym to the Scholastic Assessment Test. This move marked a formal break from its early 1920s precursors that were forms of IQ tests. Then, faced with challenges to the claim that it truly measured achievement, in 1994 it removed the acronym entirely, keeping only the initials SAT. This article discusses the following: (1) how SAT is used in the present times; (2) the dawning and dominance of the importance of scoring; (3) the threat of SAT-optional movement; (4) the critiques within higher education of SAT-optional policies; and (5) the advocacy efforts made by Fair Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing in encouraging schools to adopt SAT-optional policies. A possible solution that addresses some major concerns about the SAT while utilizing its major strengths is also discussed.
National Association for College Admission Counseling. 1631 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2818. Tel: 800-822-6285; Tel: 703-836-2222; Fax: 703-836-8015; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Maine; Rhode Island
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: SAT (College Admission Test)