Anna Sheffer
May 17, 2019 10:35 am

Applying to college is stressful for all students, but it’s admittedly easier for those with more privilege. The admissions process has faced criticism over this for years, and recently, in March, the college admissions scandal made it clear that the problem is even worse than many of us realized. Now, to help level the playing field, the SAT will give students an “adversity score” based on their socioeconomic status.

According to The New York TimesCollege Board—the company that administers the test—announced the change on May 16th. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news that future tests will assign students ratings from one to 100 based on 15 factors, such as the poverty level of their neighborhood. An “adversity score” of 50 will be average, with higher numbers meaning that the student has had to overcome more socioeconomic challenges. The Times notes that the rating will not affect students’ test scores, and it will only be reported to college admissions boards. According to BuzzFeed News, the ratings will be implemented in 2020.

A College Board spokesperson told CNN that 50 colleges and universities have already experimented with the 15 factors that make up the rating—known as the “Environmental Context Dashboard.” CNN also notes that the so-called “adversity scores” do not take a student’s race into account (though many students of color will realistically score high on the scale due to the strong intersection between race and income inequality in this country).

It’s not yet clear whether the SAT’s new system will help less privileged students in the college admissions process, but it’s certainly an interesting attempt to make things more equal.

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