SAT to Implement New “Adversity Score”


Mary Kate Machi, Staff Writer

The College Board recently announced that it will be expanding its “adversity score” in an attempt to level the playing field when it comes to the SAT.

Currently, 50 schools use this indicator, but the College Board said that 150 more will begin using it starting this fall.

The adversity score will take into account fifteen different factors that will shed light on students’ social background, economic background, and other privileges or lack thereof. It is split into three categories: neighborhood environment, family environment, and high school environment.

Each category has five sub-indicators that are taken into account. For example, crime and poverty rate are sub-indicators of neighborhood, and parents’ education level and first languages are sub-indicators of family.

All of these come together to form an adversity score from zero to 100, with fifty being average.

There have been mixed reactions and opinions to the College Board’s choice so far.

Its goal was to provide admissions officers with “critical context” on the “talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community,” according to David Coleman, the chief executive officer of the College Board.

Many people agree with this point of view. “I think it’s a good way to take a students score in context of where they received their education, and can allow colleges to see how they performed in comparison to their peers,” said Gabriella Garcia (‘20).

Indeed, it can provide context that is lacking in the traditional 1600-point SAT score. However, some people believe that more is lacking in this new system.

To begin with, the adversity score is lacking a large facet of many students identities: race.

Race impacts countless aspects of life, many of which are not taken into account by the SAT’s adversity score.

For example, researchers at Texas A&M University found that white children in first grade have more supportive relationships with their teachers than African-American students do. However, this doesn’t stop in the first grade, because researchers at the University of Virginia and John Hopkins University have found similar results in high school.

By omitting race, many believe that the College Board is missing a crucial opportunity. However, as of now, the adversity score is still set to spread to 150 more schools in the fall.

It will affect all students’ admissions, whether they support the new change or not. “This (adversity score) is literally affecting every application we look at,” said Jeremiah Quinlan, Yale’s dean of undergraduate admissions.

However, the true effect of the “adversity score” has yet to be seen.