Speed Reads

The Rich Are Different

How family income determines SAT scores, in one revealing chart


The College Board announced today that it would overhaul the SAT exam, citing numerous flaws in the test's design. And in particular, the company conceded that the standardized test put lower-income students at a huge disadvantage. How much of a disadvantage? The following chart shows average test scores for all test-takers, broken down by family income, in 2013:

Some of reasons for the gap between haves and have-nots are institutional (wealthier families are more likely to live in places with better school districts) but others are purely financial (wealthier families can afford expensive test prep classes, hire tutors, and so on.) And it's the latter category that's often at the heart of a leading argument against standardized tests, which holds that they don't measure intellectual aptitude, but rather memorization and test-taking preparedness.