I was going through some old clippings when I came across an article ” “Should SATs matter ?” in an issue of Time ( March 12, 2001). In exploring the subject, Time listed the SAT scores of several prominent Americans. They make for some interesting reading.
Many of these scores were earned more than 30 or 40 years ago when the SAT was scored differently. It was not graded on a curve and a perfect score then was 1600 since students were tested only in Math and Verbal Ability. Since then , the SAT has been expanded to include a Writing Section and a perfect score is 2400. Scores are also ” re-centered” and are calculated to the nearest 10. I have therefore adjusted the scores to make them relevant to today’s norm. In order to do this I have added 80 points ( where possible ; I couldn’t do that for Ben Stein because his score was near perfect already) and multiplied them by 1.50 so that they are on a 2,400 scale.
The following are the original as well as the adjusted scores :
NAME Actual Score Adjusted Score
Paul Wellstone ( ex- Sen.) < 800 < 1,320
Amy Tan ( Author) 1100 ( Approx) 1,770 ( approx)
George W.Bush 1,206 1,930
Meredith Viera ( TV Host) 1,300’s 2,070
Al Gore 1,335 2,120
Scott McNealy 1,420 2,250
Ben Stein 1,573 2,390
In addition the above, it was reported in the N.Y. Post that when Jennifer Lopez was asked what she got on her SATs , she replied ” Nail Polish !” Former Senator Bill Bradley, who went to Princeton and later became a Rhodes Scholar and a N.Y. Knick, scored 485/800 in the verbal part of the Sat which today would be about 530 or so after recentering — less than what one would have expected.
What about George Bush’s score ? Since the average SAT score today is around 1,600 , Mr. Bush’s score of 1,930 is highly respectable. If he had a lackluster career at Yale, it was probably because he partied his way through college.
Nowadays, the SAT is under fire by critics for a number of reasons , one of which is that it is not an accurate predictor of how well a student will do in college. I think they are missing the point. The SAT is a legitimate way of comparing students from different parts of the country. All the other yardsticks such as GPA, extra curricular activities , college essays are either subject to local/regional variations or can be manipulated . The SAT also offers a snapshot of the student’s basic math and language skills. How well a student does in college depends on how the student applies himself and cannot be predicted by a test, any test. The SAT is not perfect ( I think it is too long ) but it is a fair way of assessing school students and it is here to stay.