New Data Reveals SAT’s Role as a ‘Wealth Test,’ Not an Intelligence Gauge


Unveiling the SAT’s True Nature

The SAT, a standardized test considered a pivotal step for college-bound high school students, has come under scrutiny for more than its ability to assess intelligence. Recent findings from The New York Times indicate that the SAT predominantly measures wealth, unearthing deeply rooted educational inequalities that favor the affluent.

A High Score’s Elitist Nature

Historically, a score of 1300 on the SAT, or an equivalent of 29 on the ACT, was considered a notable achievement and a ticket to elite colleges and universities. However, data from students graduating in the 2010s paints a disheartening picture. It reveals that a mere fraction of the nation’s lowest-income students manage to reach this benchmark.

The Rich-Poor Divide

A clear divide emerges as merely 2.4% of students in the bottom 20% of family incomes attained a score of 1300 or higher. Consequently, students from the lowest-income households represent only 2 out of every 100 students who achieve this score.

Wealthy Students’ Overwhelming Advantage

The disparities extend beyond the bottom 20% as there exists a chasm even between the highest-income families and the top 1%. Students in the top 1% are a staggering 13 times more likely to achieve a score of 1300 compared to their less affluent counterparts. For the top 0.1%, whose parents boast an average income of $11 million, their scores outshine all.

Addressing Educational Inequity

These findings expose the SAT’s role in perpetuating socio-economic divides, where academic achievement often correlates with wealth rather than intelligence. Efforts to address these disparities and make education more inclusive and equitable are now more imperative than ever.


The SAT, long considered a meritocratic benchmark for college admissions, is facing a reckoning. New data underscores its role as a “wealth test” that places the privileged in an advantageous position, while countless others struggle to attain the test scores required for higher education. The need for reforms and inclusive policies in education is evident, given the glaring disparities revealed by these shocking statistics.


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