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What the SAT really measures

Predicting what we might do can’t be untangled from where we’ve been.

A few months ago, an FBI investigation found that rich parents — including celebrities like Felicity Huffman — were cheating to get their kids into elite colleges.

It involved an elaborate scam to get higher SAT scores for their children.

This isn’t the first time people paid for higher SAT scores. In 2011, about 20 teenagers in Long Island were accused of paying as much as $3,600 to have someone else take the SAT for them. And a few years ago, 15 Chinese nationals were accused of the same thing, paying nearly $6,000 for the higher score.

And this is for good reason.

Colleges often say the SAT score is just a small part of the admissions decision, but survey data of colleges shows that it’s actually one of the biggest factors. In addition, the Department of Education surveys colleges on the SAT scores of students at their school — and it shows that selective schools admit the large majority of students from the high end of the SAT spectrum.

So what do these scores mean?

Well, since the 1940s, the creator of the SAT, the College Board, has said the exam is a predictor of first-year college GPA. And they publish studies that prove this.

But, just like SAT questions, the answer is not that simple.

Watch this video to learn where the test comes from, how it got so big, and why some people call it a driver of inequality.

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