SAT scores trend with family income

The College Board announced sweeping changes to its signature college admissions exam Wednesday aimed at turning the SAT into a better predictor of success at the college level by eliminating arcane and esoteric vocabulary words, the penalty for incorrect guessing, and by making the essay portion optional.

As the organization’s own data shows, family income is a huge predictor of a student’s success on the SAT. On the of the current 2,400-point scale (which will return to 1,600 as part of the reform), students from families making less than $20,000 a year averaged a combined score of 1,326 –whereas students with a family income of more than $200,000 a year scored an average of 1,714 points. 

Critics have held that the exam favors wealthy students who can afford expensive test-prep courses and tutors, on top of the institutional advantage of attending schools located in wealthier districts, which tend to produce higher-scoring students.

David Coleman, President of the College Board, told the New York Times that the test (along with the ACT) had “become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”

The College Board also announced fee waivers for some students’ college applications and free online practice materials to help narrow the achievement gap. The changes take effect in the spring of 2016.