Use of the Scholastic Aptitude Test
At the present time, over 90 percent of all American colleges and universities require applicants to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test and submit results of that test in order to gain admission. Approximately 1.7 million students take this test each year. However, the test has been questioned by many groups in terms of validity and appropriateness. How was this test developed and how appropriate is it as a measure of student aptitude for higher education?
There were a number of agencies interested in measuring intelligence during the period between World War I and World War II. Their interests were not always altruistic. Indeed, the originator of the Scholastic Aptitude Test sought to design an intelligence measure that would identify superior racial stock. He believed that the United States was being damaged by its diversity and thought that Jews, Catholics, Eastern Europeans and others were of less intelligence than other ethnic groups in the country (Brigham, 1923). He was particularly worried about the impact of Blacks on the genetic pool of intelligence. He wanted to design a test that would identify superior intelligence (which he equated with superior genetic, ethnic stock) and reward those individuals.
Brigham developed the first Scholastic Aptitude Test in the early 1920s, working with the College Entrance Examination Board. The College Entrance Examination Board merged with other agencies to form the Educational Testing Service, which still manages the SAT at the present time.
The first SAT was almost identical to the current SAT in format. It had two parts, with emphases on verbal and mathematical skills. It was first offered in 1926, with two 30-minute sections on vocabulary and reading comprehension, two 30-minute sections on mathematics, and one 30-minute section to provide for post-test and pre-test needs (Elert, 1997).
During the period between 1926 and 194...