SAT Is Like an IQ Test —and It Works

Slate essayists say it can and should play a valuable role for colleges
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2014 1:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – The SAT is a favorite punching bag these days, with critics saying it should be eliminated from the college-application process. But in an essay at Slate, David Hambrick and Christopher Chabris come to the test's defense on several fronts. Those who say the SAT is a lousy predictor of college success are just plain wrong, they write. A slew of research shows that the SAT does "remarkably" well in predicting not only how a freshman will do, but also a senior—and even a new graduate. As for the "socioeconomic" knock that the SAT favors those rich enough to hire special tutors, it's exaggerated. What critics fail to mention is all the low-income students who use strong SAT scores to get into a good college, a feat that might have been impossible otherwise.

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The authors say the SAT is similar to an IQ test in that its strength is measuring general intelligence. And while IQ tests have critics of their own, the "bottom line is that there are large, measurable differences among people in intellectual ability," and we'd be foolish to ignore them. "Given everything that social scientists have learned about IQ and its broad predictive validity, it is reasonable to make it a factor in decisions such as whom to hire for a particular job or admit to a particular college or university," they write. Click for their full column. (Read more SAT stories.)

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