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Want To Score High On The SAT? Pick Rich Parents

While money (reportedly) can't buy love, it appears, according to The WSJ, that it can buy brains.On average, based on calculations from FairTest, students in 2014 in every income bracket outscored students in a lower bracket on every section of the test. Rather stunningly, students from the wealthiest families outscored those from the poorest by just shy of 400 points. As WSJ's Josh Zumbrun so poetically notes, perhaps SAT should more appropriately stand for Student Affluence Test.



As The Wall Street Journal explains, students from the wealthiest families outscored those from the poorest by just shy of 400 points.

Given the widespread use of the SAT in college admissions, the implications are obvious: Not only are the wealthiest families best equipped to pay for college, their kids on average are more likely to post the sort of scores that make admissions easy.


Thus the SAT is just another area in American life where economic inequality results in much more than just disparate incomes. And making matters worse, some employers continue to ask for test scores years after graduation.




It’s tempting to believe the disparity in results arises because wealthy parents can easily afford SAT prep courses to help students game the test by learning its tricks. But some research suggests test prep has a fairly limited effect on scores. One study found that testing boosts math scores by 14-15 points and reading scores by 6-8 points.

Yet the gaps between rich and poor students are far larger than what could be produced by test prep alone. If the disparity were merely caused by test prep, that would perhaps be comforting, because an obvious solution would be: Provide everyone with test prep.

And so a vicious circle develops...

But if the phenomenon arises from a confluence of factors, that makes it all the harder to remove income gaps from standardized tests. Family wealth allows parents to locate in neighborhoods with better schools (or spring for private schools). Parents who are themselves college educated tend to make more money, and since today’s high school seniors were born in the mid-1990s, many of the wealthiest and best-educated parents themselves came of age when the tests were of crucial importance. When the SAT is crucial to college, college is crucial to income, and income is crucial to SAT scores, a mutually reinforcing cycle develops.

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Conclusion: Once again it is crucial to your realization of The American Dream that you pick your parents wisely.

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We're going to need some more government intervention to 'fix' this...