Can New SAT Level the Playing Field?

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The College Board recently announced huge changes to the test that high schoolers dread most: the SAT. The goal, according to President David Coleman, is to level the playing field and eliminate the inequality gap between high and low income students.


The new exam will once again be scored on a 1600-point scale, with an optional essay section. There will also be a focus on "relevant" vocabulary words (see ya, "ameliorate" and "exacerbate"!), and will rely more on reasoning skills than esoteric knowledge.

So what do the experts think? Responses have been mixed. Anthony Green, for one, is not optimistic about the changes. And as someone who makes up to $650 an hour as an SAT tutor to New York’s elite, he knows what he’s talking about. (check out our “Boss of Me” segment with Anthony Green for more background)


“Standardized testing is inherently unfair,” Green said. “And here’s the funny thing: there’s nothing that The College Board can do. The College Board is the problem.”

Green admits that, when it comes to revamping the SAT, he’s cynical. But from his perspective, he has every reason to be. He’s built a hugely successful business based on cracking the code to the SAT – and his expertise doesn’t come cheap.

“Colleges care about two things: money and reputation,” he said. “They want kids who can give them more cash and lead to a better reputation. The SAT is simply an indicator of people who are already moneyed.”

Green laughs at colleges that claim to be “need-blind.” In his experience, the main factors that determine admission to elite colleges are blatantly related to students’ level of need.


“Colleges are basically saying: ‘We don’t care about your financial needs! We just care that you went to prep school, were on the crew team and went to a country club,” Green said.

One facet of The College Board’s overhaul involves “free, world-class test prep for the new SAT.” Green agrees that this is a good start, but he doubts it’ll even begin to put a dent in the opportunity gap between high and low income students.


“If we made every gym in America free, would everyone be in great shape? Of course not,” he said. “People with personal trainers – and private SAT tutors – will always do better. And not everyone can afford it.”

Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.

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