The problem with America’s college entrance exam


The problem with America’s college entrance exam

These 50 cards represent every person who
took the SAT college entrance exam in 2017. In America, this score — this ranking of
students — is hugely important. Elite schools like Yale or Harvard select
the large majority of their students from this pile —
the top 1 percent of test takers. And it’s not just super elite schools. A public flagship state school, like the University
of Georgia, admits most of its students from this pile. And even a less selective school, like Wichita
State University, admits most of its students from this pile. All three of these ranges are higher than
the average score. This why people pay lots of money to train
for the test with companies like Princeton Review, Kaplan, and PrepScholar. A slightly higher score can make a big difference. That’s also why some really rich people
got caught paying lots of money to help their kids cheat on the test. “Dozens of coaches, actors, and CEOs…” “Felicity Huffman accused of paying $15,000 to have someone either take the exam for their child, or to correct their child’s answers afterward..” Your place in this ranking can have a huge
impact on what opportunities come your way. So it’s worth asking… what exactly does the SAT measure? What does this score actually say about you? To answer this question, we have to start
with this man: Carl Brigham. He was a young psychologist during World War
I who was obsessed with measuring human
intelligence. He would devise puzzles for soldiers that
supposedly measured their intelligence by testing whether they could decode symbols, draw missing parts of a picture, or even complete maze. He concluded that white people of English,
Scottish, and Dutch descent were smartest. At the very bottom were black people and recent
immigrants from Poland and Italy. He ignored the fact that some test takers
didn’t speak English. So answering a question like “How many are
60 guns and 5 guns” could be difficult. He ignored how some people were barred from
receiving an adequate education. Which meant some puzzles, like this one, could
be quite challenging. He just assumed the scores reflected the innate
intelligence of different races. And because of this, he wrote that black people
were so much less intelligent that America should worry about “racial admixture” which
would “incorporate the negro into our racial stock” — and “taint” the population. After World War I, Brigham wrote a new test
to measure the intelligence of prospective college students. He included word and number puzzles, like: Pick the three words below that are most related: Chops, liver, round, fore-quarter, rump, sirloin. Yeah, I don’t know, either. Anyway, Brigham’s exam was called the Scholastic
Aptitude Test. The SAT. The SAT wasn’t very popular at first. In 1941, just 10,000 people took the exam. That was just 1 percent of high school seniors. Most colleges just didn’t need it. They didn’t have that many applicants, partially
because less than 10 percent of people Americans went to college. So they could spend more time with each application. And many elite schools administered their
own entrance exams. Then, World War II ended. Millions of troops returned to the US. And there was a new benefit white veterans
could take advantage of: the GI Bill — which helped them pay for college. And college enrollment skyrocketed. All of a sudden, colleges had way more applications
to sort through. And they needed a tool to help them figure
out who to accept. So they started requiring the SAT, which gave
them some numerical way to rank applicants. Meanwhile, the College Board recognized that
Americans didn’t love the idea of an “intelligence test” determining their future. So they started saying their exam measured
college preparedness. And every few years, they proved it — by
saying their exam, along with high school grades, were a good predictor of how well
students do in college. They still do this. For example, here’s that analysis from this
year. It shows that high school GPA alone gets us
about halfway to predicting college GPA. But the College Board sold schools on this
next part: If we consider SAT scores along with high school GPA, this prediction can
get a bit better. And colleges bought into this rebranding,
and started asking for SAT scores. In 1941, just 10,000 students took the SAT. By 1950, 80,000 students took the exam. By 1960, 800,000 students took the SAT. By the next decade, it rose to a million.. Now, more than 2 million students take the
exam each year. And as the competition for college ramped
up, the applications got stronger. In 1982, the average high school graduate
completed Algebra or maybe Algebra 2. By 2004, the average student was closer to
Trigonometry. Also, more students had extracurriculars on
their applications. In 1992, just 19 percent of high school students
were leaders in an extracurricular activity. Just 12 years later, in 2004, that number
doubled. As the competition got stiffer, students started
applying to way more schools. In 1967, about 40 percent of students applied
to more than two schools. Now, it’s more than 80 percent of students. And a decent chunk of them apply to more than
6 schools. All of this overwhelmed admissions offices. So they started to rely even more on the SATs. In 1993, 46 percent of schools gave “considerable
importance” to SAT scores. By 2005, it was 59 percent. But looming over the increasing weight of
this number, was this other thing the SAT seemed to measure. Wealth. It’s apparent in the data. Here’s a chart of the average SAT scores by
family income. Students whose families earn less than $20,000
score around 890 — way below average. And as we move up the income brackets, students
score higher and higher. The wealthiest students — whose parents earn
more than $200,000 — score an average of 1150. Now, defenders of the SAT have often said
there’s nothing wrong with the test itself. They say this score is just reflecting the
inequality in America. And that’s not wrong. We can follow that logic up the chain. We can start with America’s highly unequal
neighborhoods. Schools in poor neighborhoods are more likely
to be under-resourced. And students from more affluent neighborhoods
and schools tend to score higher on the SAT. In turn, students with better SAT scores go
to more selective colleges. And this system is a cycle. When Stanford researcher Raj Chetty and his
colleagues tracked people born in the early-1980s, he found that these people — who went to
the most selective colleges — — had parents who earned, on average, $171,000
a year. The parents of these people, who went to selective
public colleges, earned $87,000. And those who attended community colleges
had parents who earned $67,000 a year. And through this system, that wealth was passed
on. Chetty and his colleagues found that students
who graduated from these elite colleges earned, on average, $82,500 a year by their early-30s. Those who went to a selective public college
earned half that — $41,600. And those who went to a community college
were at about $30,000. But Chetty and his colleagues found that,
if low-income student gets the opportunity to attend a more selective school, they’re able to graduate — and earn just as much money as their classmates. In 2016, the College Board redesigned the
SAT. The old test tried to trip up test-takers
— for example, asking about the meaning of obscure words like “acrimonious.” The new one tries to test what you’ve learned
in school — to try to make it less of an intelligence test. For example, it’ll show you a sentence like:
The jungle has an intense clustering of bugs. And then ask: What does “intense” most nearly mean? Emotional
Concentrated Brilliant
Determined Still, your SAT score measures how well you’ll
do in college, to a degree. It also measures where you grew up — and
what opportunities you had. But it’s also a tool that keeps this inequality
machine going. College Board president David Coleman sees
this happening. He recently wrote:
“We need a far humbler view of the SAT. They should never be more than one factor
in an admissions decision. Low scores should never be a veto on a student’s
life.” The SAT was created in the pursuit of precision. An effort to measure what we’re capable of — to predict what we can do. What we might do. What we’ve forgotten is that, often, that
can’t be untangled from where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and what we’ve been given.

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100 thoughts on “The problem with America’s college entrance exam”

  1. Bryant Ndongmo says:

    Chops liver and sirloin?

  2. Bryant Ndongmo says:

    7:45 so satisfying to get it right

  3. Lil Immigrant says:

    Standardized testing has made me more worried about numbers and comparing my scores with other students rather than actually trying to learn in school

  4. PorkbellyTV says:

    Someone got bad sat score LOL

  5. GOKUL says:

    It's not just SAT, This is how every competitive exams work, no matter where. In some places it's even worse

  6. A E says:

    What this video clearly fails to do is to point out alternative solutions to the problems mentioned. What can colleges use in place of the SAT?

  7. Asian Dod says:

    It says if you're hardworking, a bit less than average family income and not lazy. If you get a low score, you're either not in school or lazy. I'm not rich, but got a 1560.

  8. Dhiman Luy says:

    I was in a British school systems and we also did STATs in the 6th grade

  9. ThatGuyCanmanNC says:

    2:28 chops, liver and sirloin
    They have to do with meat

    The irony is that I’m vegetarian

  10. Kaushal Bhattarai says:

    SAT stands for student’s affluence test.

  11. saver menu cheeseburger at McDonalds says:

    I'm so glad I live in the uk phew

  12. I am Lemon says:

    laughs in gcse

  13. Asher Scoggins says:

    Maybe students could choose what school they go to the school in their neighborhood or maybe the more rich schools so schools are forced to compete and teachers become better because they need money and those students get to go to better universities

  14. DewDrops says:

    To future college students, go to community college and then transfer to a 4 university you'll save money and won't be stressed about some meaningless test. I've never taken and sat

  15. Keith Kevelson says:

    I would say that math skills seem to be more skewed in today's society. We're largely becoming a society of have's and have-not's in terms of math skills, which I find very disturbing, but we can fix it with certain educational reforms.

  16. Jason Lu says:

    if i have a 1290-1350 for sat as a 9th grader is that bad

  17. Mark Marzan says:

    The thumbnail first name abc and last name bbc you know what that means

  18. Audrey Davis says:

    the SAT is psychotic

  19. Ameya Shetty says:

    Laughs in jee mains
    Also cries in jee mains

  20. Genesis. says:

    I just took my psat last month and it’s a lot of pressure even if it’s a practice.

  21. Mari Rossoni says:

    Here in Brazil we have ENEM… Almost every public university demands it and it's so hard because our schools aren't prepared to give us all the content we need to do the test. It is very big, we have to do in two days 90 questions each. We have an essay too. Also, those who really need to get into a public school end up not being able to get in, because people who have money to pay courses and go to private schools make better scores and take their places.

  22. Michael Lee says:

    Everyone complaining about sat scores being a huge weight in the college admission process when in china and Korea for example their college entrance exam score is the only thing that determines it

  23. moms spaghetti says:

    "I didnt graduate from harvard, but I have people working for me who did" -elon musk.
    Anything is possible, dont let this system define you.

  24. Ivan Beales says:

    Bet the new GCSEs are still harder tho

  25. Liah Rhaeyna says:

    The SAT measures preparedness and effort, not intelligence. That’s why colleges look at ACT/SAT scores and your GPA.

  26. qodent dent says:

    Some of the guys are hot btw

  27. Alias says:

    Long live Vox!

  28. Erik Emerölduson says:

    SAT tests how well…
    You do at the SAT.
    That's it.

  29. Lone Ghost _/__/_ says:

    Eh don’t worry about it

  30. Matheus Breitenbach says:

    My native language isn't english, I don't live in U.S., I didn't spend more than 50 bucks in prep, and my family income is lower than 40'000 p/y, nevertheless, I studied hard using free plataforms (college board website, Khan academy, quora and Reddit)i achieve a good score only doing it, you can do it, don't let obstacles limit your dreams

  31. Evan Cheng says:

    At 1:35, shouldn't they have drawn the chimney stack at the left side of the house, where the brick chimney is?

  32. gianni bude says:

    Good i live in belgium and the only qualification is that you must have a high school diploma. And no university can refuse you.


    Bill Gates dropped out of college = Became today a multi-billions dollar man.
    Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college = Became today a multi-billions dollar man, Larry Elison, Michael Dell, and the list goes on …
    Wonder what's the point of going to college nowadays sacrifying years of studies and money to get a degree to ended up being a bartender at the end, and this happened to a lot of us for decades already. Welcome to one of the biggest SCAM ever in America that will rip your money and your life away for free if you fail on it !

  34. De Eas says:

    If half of test takers are scoring below average, then the test must be flawed, racist, or both.
    We must revise college entrance exams so that everybody scores above average.

  35. Andy says:

    Both of my parents make $1M a year. My mum hired me a SAT tutor (because I’m taking it soon since I’m a junior) and he kept tutoring me by letting me take the practice test and see what I did wrong and show me my actual score. But the more and more I try my score won’t go up. I want a 1400 or 1500 but it wouldn’t go up. I kept getting in the range of 800-1000. 😭 So having money doesn’t mean anything.

  36. LO Angel says:

    Laugh-crying in Asian

  37. tv92taylor says:

    The SAT isn’t supposed to have equal results for people of all backgrounds. It’s supposed to be effective for objectively identifying individuals who will be more likely to be successful in higher education (and it is). The results aren’t perfectly accurate, but that’s also why it is only a single factor for applications.

  38. Rajat Bishnoi says:

    Well you could say that the test taken to get in the best colleges in india(IITs and NITs,almost every Engineering college) is even worst than the SAT.

  39. willow says:

    HA Ha ha I’m applying to 20 schools 🤩 (also i’ve lived below/at the poverty line my whole life and i got a 29/1350)

  40. Live Laugh Love AG!!! says:

    Lol I took the sat in 7th grade for john Hopkins and I got a 1100

  41. Kk TT says:

    Have you ever seen the Indian entrance examinations?

  42. The Drift King says:

    Imma be real with you dog, an average of 1150 is not good either……

  43. Trent White says:

    College is the epitome of stupidity in my opinion. There’s nothing like paying money to teach yourself for years on end to get a piece of paper.

  44. Ammar Abbasi says:

    I thought when he said SAT he meant year 6s British SAT 💀

  45. James Nodding says:

    Meaning while the UK sees this as a walk in the park

  46. 7318ify says:

    When comparing students income to what school they went to, community college seemed to be portrayed as a a worse option than state, and ivy league institutions. What this doesn't take into perspective however is the massive debt that students accumulate after going to "brand name" schools. This is a topic for another video Im sure, but just an observation.

  47. Thandiwe Croke says:

    Some things I concluded from this video:
    -The SAT is racist and classist
    -This is a result of the American School system being so bad
    -Now, Colleges use them to further perpetuate socioeconomic inequality
    Overall, the SAT is unfair.

  48. Jasmine자스민 says:

    no, the problem IS america

  49. Maulik Parmar says:

    And here we are those 60% throughout grade in high school still determines your eligibility to sit in test for post graduate course, even if you have cleared graduation with 7.7/10 GPA…. yes that's the thing too. Closing down doors to those whom system has cheated in earlier stages due to same stuff and then blame why they don't get quality working people.

  50. HowToLife says:

    In the 50 cards at the beginning, the top 1% would technically be half a card

  51. HowToLife says:

    In the 50 cards at the beginning, the top 1% would technically be half a card

  52. emily bronheart says:

    I got free official practise on Khan Academy and printed the college board's official tests. I raised my score by 220 points.

  53. shamina says:

    still the most surprising thing is having to pay for the test

  54. Rewind says:

    I didn't realize how much I hated the SAT and realized until I realized its a measure of your wealth. I went to a different high school my first 2 years and due to economic problems I had to move to a way poorer area and when I went to visit my old HS one of my friends got a 1250(I got a 1260) and this might not add up but I'm way way smarter than this guy (in the least arrogant way possible)and he got a 1250, if I would stayed and got the same opportunities as he did I might have got a 1400 at least.

  55. SCOUT yt says:

    The SAT is nothing, let’s talk about the suneung (people also call it the CSAT)

  56. Mang Knorr says:

    SAT questions are pretty easy. Mostly it's basically grade 10 stuff, tried taking it and got a perfect score. Sadly though, I am not from U.S.A and can't get into Yale or Harvard considering I'm just a poor middle class person living in a third world country.

  57. Olivia Peralta says:

    ACT squad where y'all at?

  58. Gurpreet Singh says:

    Conclusion is that
    Asia have most difficult entrance exam
    Which are not suitable for human being

  59. Adam says:

    7:05 that graphic is extremely deceptive

  60. The Great Zoom says:

    American media company talking about an American test for getting into American higher education and how it's a problem for American students.
    Foreign commenters:

    No, no I haven't, and I don't think anyone really cares either.

  61. Big G says:

    College attendance skyrocketed FOR WHITE PEOPLE due to the GI Bill. This is why blacks make less today. The cycle of poverty.

  62. Dushen Wang says:


  63. YOGINDRE V PAI says:

    INDIANS: hold my tea

  64. Elsie MacDonald says:

    the idea of not having specific qualifications at school which get you into courses based on the specific courses and grades you got is wack

  65. Lil Twinkie says:

    What have we been through we haven’t been through anything they went through it

  66. yun_nuwu says:

    We'll always address problems, but never really fix them.

  67. DBT says:

    Schools only accept above average scores because those are the only people that should go to college. Way more students go to college than need too hence the large amount of student debt. The problem isn’t accepting too smart students it’s accepting too many students who study useless majors racking up massive debt without earning themselves a decent job to pay it off.

  68. Oath Draws says:

    So you’re telling me. If this person didn’t had this weird fascination of ranging peoples intelligence into some kind of scale/meter format that I wouldn’t have to stress over SATS so much-

  69. Marcela Moreira says:

    In Uruguay we don't have that. Everyone is admitted without any tests and most univesities are free. I hate how people from my country don't see that.

  70. Michela Giorgio says:

    this just made me so anxious and I don't even live in the USA I feel so sorry for everyone who does

  71. Marcus Vaz says:

    See people entry exams are flays and what this video was saying is exactly what I have been saying people who are learning disabled, first English speakers and people from low socioeconomic improvised backgrounds have a harder time with SAT or ACT

  72. sadf141 says:

    what is the piano song at the end

  73. SmokeSpark Dragonfly says:

    The sat study book is gathering dust on my desk

  74. The Rebelephant says:

    Not everyone should go to college anyways.

  75. Marcus Cheung says:

    Taking it next week, hope I get a 1500 this time

  76. Sayori Utsugj says:

    Its called we all try to be amazing, so it makes the average harder and harder to reach.

  77. David bc says:

    my school had a horrible math education and im stressed because im taking the sat on Saturday

  78. Snovaltica says:

    The average high school graduate took Trigonometry
    Somehow I don’t believe that

  79. Jayesh Sinha says:

    Are we gonna ignore the fact that he said the N word casually 2:16

  80. Lex W. says:

    Oh god Im so glad Im already in an elite college

  81. 박태현 • 𝚃𝚊𝚎-𝙷𝚢𝚞𝚗 says:

    Will we ever be at a time where colleges and universities will just let people follow their dream careers instead of making them do standardized testing for the things they won’t be test in, inside of those colleges? This is literally contradicting itself, it’s quite sad to see that this is actually happening right now.

  82. Stoicho entertainments says:

    Oh C’mon it’s the same way almost everywhere. In Bulgaria for example, our state exam (it’s obligatory, you can’t get diploma without completing it) consists of having to write an essay on a topic from our literature classes and analyze poem or text studied during our residence in high school. However, In order for you to write this essay and get enough to graduate with acceptable grade, just high school isn’t enough. You have to pay more than 1000$ just to be trained for the state exam. Universities in Bulgaria are doing what’s called “entrance exam training” where student are trained for the universities entrance exams in the subjects they apply with and guess what- NO ONE THINKS ABOUT EQUALITY BETWEEN STUDENTS WHO CANT AND CAN AFFORD THIS TRAINING . In Bulgaria you have elite gymnasiums and bad Gymnasiums and guess who’s gonna get the bestest education? The ones who make them kids take private lessons in the respected subjects asked by the Gymnasium for entrance. And on the top of that- you can take SAT more than once whereas in Bulgaria you do your state exam only once and c’boom your future is determined.

  83. kyc07 says:

    Just see JEE and NEET exam papers
    I swear u will thank god that u didn't have to even prepare for that exam
    Because those tests are on that level that even your college professors would give up
    (Try them at your on risk….
    Side effects include suicidial thoughts)

  84. emily says:

    So….the SAT has a basis in eugenics. Got it…

  85. Kiara Rodriguez says:

    I literally have the SAT this Saturday and this was in my recommendations. I’m really really STRESSED

  86. don't care says:

    Yet a lot of the people who changed the world past and present with ingenious ideas, inventions, and prolific thought only went to high school or dropped out. Google it there's to many to name.

  87. Andy Ding says:

    I belong to the top 1% of SAT test takers (I am a national merit scholarship recipient) and my high school gpa was also in the top 1%. Y’all are just bitter losers who need to get on my level.

  88. DJ Nick Black says:

    Hmmm so we base who gets into colleges by a system created by racist man… nice

  89. shwosh wosh says:

    I've seen the maths sat. It looks quite fun.

  90. shwosh wosh says:

    How about some open ended questions eh?

  91. VirtualizingReality says:

    Lets be honest, if you get below a 1200, you don't deserve to go to an ivy league school.

  92. ItsSurreal says:

    I literally only personally scored a 1030 on mine. I'm ok with it because even though im not going to psu main, i go to a smaller psu that im still getting a degree from

  93. g sandoval says:

    i got into ucla with a 1310

  94. Blue Acidball says:

    Well… as a black…. f you Carl. F. You.

  95. Katvano E says:

    So should I score more than 1150?

  96. David Degenhardt says:

    Boy am I happy not to live in the us

  97. John Cena says:

    how come the last guy in that row is afroamerican?..

  98. Jacob Daniel says:

    It's chops, liver and sirloin because liver and sirloin are both meats in cooking, and you can CHOP them when cooking. Not that difficult.

  99. N/A N/A says:

    The SAT often reflects the gpa of the student

  100. LordOfWaffles says:

    My school has an AVID program which is the top 22ish students from each grade. They make us take the PSAT in 8th grade. They were like, " ok you're smart, so we want you to go to a good college to make us look good, so were gonna have you master the SAT to get in. " yep…..I'm in that group and half of us know it's unfair, but also know we will get in a good college. So we do it.

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