Fun education

SAT – Fun Facts!

Seems like an oxymoron, right? But really, the SAT can be fun! Well, no, that’s a lie. But let’s pretend that’s true while we read these cool facts about the SAT!

Fun fact #1: SAT means…

… nothing! SAT is a pseudo-abbreviation. Like its Kentucky Fried Chicken and A&M brethren at Texas A&M University, “SAT” appears to be an acronym but, officially, it no longer stands for anything. Originally, the “SAT” stood for “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” but it was changed in 1990 to mean “Scholastic Assessment Test” in order to appease critics who claimed the exam was not a measure of intelligence. Then, just three years later, the letters officially lost their significance when the name was changed to “SAT I: Reasoning Test” again to appease critics who argued that the test did not accurately reflect academic achievement.

Fun fact #2: The Texas Education Miracle

One of the bearing walls of George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign was the so-called “Texas Education Miracle,” which touted his successes in raising test scores across Texas during his 1995-2000 presidency. One of the main points on the list of educational phenomena was the fact that between 1994 and 1995, SAT scores rose an astounding 100 points! Wizard Governor Bush waved his magic wand and made all the teens in Texas smarter! Truly a miracle!

Well, not really. In April of 1995, the College Board decided to reinstate the SAT because of the low national average. Originally, the SAT was designed to produce an average score of about 1,000, but over the years, as more and more people took the test, the national average dropped by about 100 points to 900. The new scoring system artificially inflated the scores so that the national average would rise again to about 1,000. In fact, adjusted for re-centering, SAT scores didn’t rise or fall significantly during the Bush era, but that’s not really a miracle.

Fun fact #3: Californication

The California Public University system is the largest university system in the country, consisting of ten schools and approximately 160,000 undergraduate students. In 2009, the University of California system received approximately 350,000 applications from high school seniors, most of whom took the SAT at least once. Even if each of those applicants only took the SAT once (which probably wasn’t the case), that would be about $16,450,000 for the college board. Maybe you can buy a small country with that kind of money!

So in 2001 when the president of UCLA announced a recommendation to eliminate the SAT as a required admissions factor, the College Board listened intently. President Atkinson questioned the validity of the SAT as an indicator of academic achievement and sparked a debate about the merits of a standardized test that eventually led to a major revision process that began in 2001, culminating in changes unveiled in 2005. The College Board increased the maximum score from 1,600 to 2,400 overall, making comparisons a little tricky to the Perfect Reading section. Struggling to reach your target score on the SAT test? Blame it on ca. Interestingly (and strangely) the UC system actually required SAT II writing (subject test) scores in addition to regular SAT scores — which makes you wonder, how did moving the writing section from SAT II to SAT I help them assess students more accurately?

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