These Four Charts Show How the SAT Favors Rich, Educated Families

Zachary Goldfarb, Washington Post, March 5, 2014

The College Board announced Wednesday that it is overhauling the SAT, dropping the timed essay and focusing less on fancy vocabulary in order to level the playing field a bit for high school students from a wider range of families. The organization’s own data show that wealthier Americans, from more educated families, tend to do far better on the test. As do white and Asian Americans, and those students who had the opportunity to take the PSAT in high school before taking the SAT. {snip}

The first chart shows that SAT scores are highly correlated with income. {snip} The writing test has the widest score gap, perhaps explaining why College Board officials are dropping the essay.


The second chart shows that students from educated families do better. {snip}


The third chart shows that Asians and whites get much higher scores than other ethnic groups. Asians top the test with an average score of 1,645, while African Americans record the lowest score with an average of 1,278. It appears that the advantage of white students over black and Hispanic students is roughly similar for the reading, math and writing test.



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  • The SAT also favors persons with good study habits.
    Oh the horror!

    • Katherine McChesney

      And ambition.

  • Eric Ruttencutter

    Higher IQ people tend to make more money. Higher IQ people score higher on the SAT. People who score higher on the SAT tend to be wealthier. Asians and Whites tend to have higher IQs, score higher on the SAT, and make more money. Therefore, there is no such thing as IQ, IQ tests measure nothing useful, and the SAT needs to be redesigned. Got it.

    • Alexandra1973

      I have a high IQ but I tend to be a bit of an underachiever. I also get bored easily.

      • I know a scientist who is a leading researcher and he claims he came from a poor, working class family. How is that for a contradiction?

      • antiquesunlight

        I grew up with some really smart people. A couple had taken IQ tests and had scored very high (well into genius territory). Sometimes they seemed to be plagued with the thought, “I know I can do this without trying, so I’ll do it later.” I think it’s very easy for smart people to become big procrastinators.

      • M&S

        I assume you are white.
        I bet that there are things which you are very good at and I would hazard that if you looked at your time allocation in them, you would discover that you were good at what you enjoyed doing because your base intelligence found expression in that area, whether it was considered economically advantageous or not.
        The mind, especially when young, is very much aware of opportunity costs inherent to soaking up useless data doing things which it is not inclined to achieve excellence in for much the same reason as a computer cannot infinitely store data without overwriting what it already has been programmed with.
        Sometimes, pressing past that sense of safety barriering can be a good thing. Women tend to be much more instinctively body-aware of things like neuro chemistry effects on how they feel and so will often prefer not to push themselves where they are uncomfortable.
        Balancing your opportunity costs against real learning is important because your intelligence is like a series of doors which you epigenetically unlock over a lifetime. Choosing the right door to open as you leave others closed forever is thus critical to developing a useful skillset which rewards intelligence.
        There are mental exercises which you can undertake to expand the rate at which those doors open and particularly to tune your metabolism and endocrinology to speed your learning process as a function of hastening competency and maintaining interest. Sometimes being around other people who are good at something you enjoy can also help imprintation of skills.
        If your screen name is accurate, it is likely you also have a high social intelligence which is an amorphous thing to statistically measure but still a very important leadership trait which is hidden in white alpha level male ‘achievers’ by other door opener competencies but still very much a part of the package. If you find it easy to manipulate others to your social advantage but see no real point in doing so, it is likely because you aren’t applying that skill in a field which has relevance to your SES enablement.
        Finally, even if you are just one of the many, by inclination, your psychometrics are your gift to your children. You are a carrier for your races’ gifts. People also forget how critically important that is and how colleges also serve as places which bring together the best living minds whose genes make us stronger.

    • Luca

      So, if I understand you correctly, it’s because of White privilege and racism.

      See, I went to a liberal school and can figure these things out for myself.

      • Nancy Thomas

        Yes, the default position is that it’s always whitey’s fault.

    • APaige

      Not only that, but the ‘average’ person making less than $20k a year and the ‘average’ kid from a family without a parental high school graduate scored higher than the average black.

    • dd121

      It’s no more complicated than this. It really takes extra effort to make the opposite conclusion.

    • Quite right; these whiners have ignored the causal relationship between IQ and economic success.

  • 2eRep

    SATa must be made an entitlement program, Obama demands it.

  • sbuffalonative

    The SAT debate has become meaningless.

    Everyone has bought into the theory that rich kids who can afford test prep courses are buying high scores.

    Test prep courses will help you feel more comfortable taking the test and raise the score a bit but you still have to smart enough to do well on the test.

    Changing the test won’t close the gap. The test will be easier and everyone will raise but the gap will remain.

    This has gotten utterly ridicules.

    • Edruezzi

      You spelt ridiculous wrong. You have a low IQ.

      • jambi19

        Nah cuz. He jest be keepn it reelz.

    • John R

      No, they will dumb down the test so much that even a monkey could do well on it! Oops, geeze, I mean’t to say, that ANYBODY could do well on it. See, you made me so mad, that I almost said something racially insensitive!

    • Nancy Thomas

      The SAT prep courses only help a little, maybe 10% if that.
      Genes are genes.

    • OhWow

      I did dead average on the SAT…really nothing special. This was after taking a prep course and buying a big practice book. So the notion you can “buy” a score is bull. Same with the GRE…my score was nothing to brag about even after taking a course and tons of practice tests. I’m now graduating with my 3 yr MS and it will only take a few more years to attain a doctorate if I choose that route. I maintained a 3.5-3.7 GPA all throughout grad school.

      You can’t buy a score…you can take every course possible and still not score as high in math as a middle class asian kid.

    • 1stworlder

      Good point that extra studying that people pay for is obviously the difference between crack baby Bantuas and high achiever Satoshi Nakamoto

  • JSS

    Can’t we just get it over with and issue PHDs in every academic field to nonwhites at birth or upon border crossing?

    • 1stworlder

      The market for Professor Doctor Rocket Surgeons will be flooded. The only Dr that I knew that malpracticed himself to death was black.

      • JSS

        Urey badi noze dem anshin gypshins wah de bets roket surginz.

    • tetrapod

      LOL!!! Perfect. I’m with ya on that!

  • c684570

    The SAT also favors people who work hard.

  • I’m ashamed to have been part of a corrupt system, but at least when I was an academic the corruption was not so open. Between the lower entrance standards and grade inflation, we’re well on our way to making a college degree meaningless. Except for that pesky student loan debt, but since blacks and browns get in free, only whites have that burden to bear.

  • WR_the_realist

    Intelligent people tend to be well educated and on average make more money than less intelligent people. When they have kids their children tend to be smart. So surprise, surprise, surprise, children from higher income and better educated families tend to have higher SAT scores than children from lower income and less well educated families. Did somebody at the NYT even think this was news?

  • Frank_DeScushin

    So the SAT scores reflect a group average intelligence hierarchy of East Asians, followed closely by whites, with a large gap to Hispanics, and blacks pulling up the rear? So kind of like every academic test ever administered? I’m sure they must all be biased and nothing can be gleaned from the same achievement pattern.

    Plus, Leftists are convinced academic achievement is related to money spent. So when they see the children of the affluent doing better academically then the children of the poor they assume the difference in money spent on the child explains the achievement difference. The reality is the affluent parents are likely affluent because their intelligence allowed them to succeed. They then passed that intelligence genetically onto their children, and passed their love for learning onto their children is well. The reverse is often true for the poor. The parents are poor because they’re not that sharp, and then they pass those not particularly bright genes onto their children. A true Leftist, though, would never admit a possible genetic correlation.

    • jambi19

      Interesting observation. Makes one understand why the Libs are always demanding more money for public schools with the argument that more money = more success.

      • dd121

        Never seems to work out for them, though.

    • 1stworlder

      But those high achieving silicon valley schools fail blacks and Hispanics.

  • JSS

    When Im paid six figures to make stupid charts mine is going to say “this chart shows that rape, drug abuse, alcoholism, murder, theft, low academic achievement, destroying nations and neighborhoods, idiotic clothes, cannibalism, bone jewelry, lack of written language, and poor hygiene favors people with dark skin”. I wonder if the Washingpost will publish my chart.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    “IQ is not positively correlated with life history outcomes, such as academic and socio-economic achievement, and biological variables, such as brain size and glucose metabolism. G-factor and the positive manifold are just artifacts of test construction. There is no single gene that determines the phenotypic expression of intelligence because intelligence is an imaginary social construct. The fact that there are academic disagreements about the nature of IQ clearly indicates that IQ has no objective basis in reality. This means that all of us, including people with genetic brain disorders, have the innate capacity to become brilliant geniuses like Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci.”

    Deny, deny, deny! Liberal reasoning at its finest!

    • OhWow

      IQ is NOT an imaginary social construct. Look up CHC theory. There are many real things that go into IQ such as: Processing Speed, Verbal Comprehension, Auditory, Long-Term Memory, Short-Term Memory, Fluid Intelligence, Crystallized Intelligence, etc. As of right now CHC theory has “G” (general intelligence) as a 7 factor model. This theory is the cutting edge of IQ factor structure.

      All of these specific areas can be measured and deficits in them are obvious and impact their lives. Different lobes of the brain are responsible for those 7 factors. It’s not perfect, but this is not BS…this is real stuff.

      • Einsatzgrenadier

        I was actually being sarcastic…

        • OhWow

          I know…just saying!

  • teaisstronger


    The Test Service will use ZIP CODES to crate tests and each test will have the name of the student on it. Rich ZIP CODE students will receive a harder version of the SAT Test than a student with a Poor ZIP CODE.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    College SAT favors rich, educated families

    It’s not hard work, hours of study, focus and discipline that causes the poor to fail, it is the TEST that favors the rich over ALL others.

    The test itself is racist. How are non-Whites supposed to know what the word “yacht” means?

    I know: Let’s scrap the old curriculum and level the playing field by replacing it with one that emphasizes blacks, Native Americans and Jews as victims of Whites devils.

    We could call is Commie Core.

    • Jotun Hunter

      I knew a (shock) young girl recently who – when I mentioned Socrates or Heraclitus or one of these – wrinkled her nose in disgust and insisted that nothing that any ancient greek ever did was of any value nor mentionable as positive, because they ‘kept slaves’. Simple as that…

  • John R

    And people are more affluent because they hold HIGHER PAYING JOBS, that usually require MORE INTELLIEGENCE and more SUCCESS in college, etc. And of course, it is not inconceivable that these very same people, may be innately more intelligent than most people, right? And of course, this may be genetic, in part, and passed on to their children, right? So, why WOULDN’T their children do better in a standardized test? This is obvious to anyone, unless they are stupid, or a deranged liberal.

    • Beetlejuice

      Even when blacks are gifted with well-paying jobs that they don’t qualify for, they still spend every penny that comes in and then some. They eschew saving for the future for the now because they have no future orientation, or they expect old Whitey will pay up for slavery reparations and they can use for retirement.

      • soul hunter

        It’s been my observation that coloreds can be
        content living in squalor, so whatever they obtain
        above that level is all gravy ..

  • Nancy Thomas

    They will water it down so that the poor non-whites won’t feel intellectually inferior….even though they are.

  • Spartacus

    Why would people assume different races also differ in intelligence, when their achievements show we’re all the same ?

    • Love it * s w i p e *

    • DaveMed

      Reminds me of Zoombini huts.

    • Malgus

      That picture never fails to get a laugh out of me… 🙂

      I am reminded that Eskimos are more technically advanced than sub-Saharan Africans, and all they had to work with were fish bones and snow.

  • c684570

    Asians are outperforming Whites? Is that part of the racist conspiracy against Blacks and Hispanics too?

    • Interesting, isn’t that, given that lots of Asians arrive in the USA handicapped by poor English language skills?

  • IstvanIN

    The SAT favors children who know how to read and have a basic knowledge of mathematics. Basic reading and math skills come about largely from paying attention in class and having both the ability and the interest in learning. Those traits are largely found in children with parents who are interested in them. Blacks generally have no interest in either learning or their children. Could an interest in learning come hand-in-hand with a higher IQ? Am I making a circular argument?

  • 1stworlder

    These charts make a good case for the heritability of IQ

  • Petronius

    I expect that the greatest unfairness in the SAT might result from differences in testing facilities and test administration. Obviously a standardized test fails in its purpose if testing conditions vary radically from site to site or within the same site.

    Thus most white college students taking the LSAT have learned beforehand that they must compete for the best testing sites. This means avoiding the HBCUs, community colleges, etc., where testing conditions can be absolutely awful. But somehow this factor is never acknowledged, and never considered in the reliability studies.

    • IstvanIN

      Huh? Both my daughter and I took it at the High School we went to. Doesn’t everyone take it at a high school?

      • Petronius

        The LSATs are given at colleges where testing conditions may vary widely. But I believe you are right about the SAT; it’s usually given at some high school.

        When I took the SAT (ages ago) I had to travel to a black inner city high school; the only reason I remember is because it was the first time I ever saw self-flushing toilets.

        I believe the ACT is usually given at a high school, too; not sure about PSAT.

        The GMAT is the fairest test because it’s given by appointment in private testing facilities operated by Pearson with professional proctors and rigorous standardized procedures.

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    My family falls into the lowest income bracket on the first graph but my SAT score was higher than the average for the highest income bracket.

    It’s IQ, not income. The SAT is not a difficult test. You don’t even have to study for it. If you’re smart, you’ll walk in and do well. If you’re not, no amount of test prep, studying, or fancy gadgets purchased by your parents are going to help you more than a few points.

  • Jotun Hunter

    ‘not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?’ — Cicero

    a man for whom contemporary test scores mean more than recorded history is not levelheaded. Especially in light of the recent news of the dumbing-down of your precious SAT’s – will this cease your prattling about them? I doubt it. When push comes to shove the asians will be busy making worthless holistic remedies from rhino horns.

  • Malgus

    Think about what you just said…

    Libraries and Bongonians together? The only time I ever see them in a library is to use the free internet to surf for porn or hook up wiff dey peeps on FaceSpook…

    A book might as well be kryptonite to a negro… in fact, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, one of the unlooted dry places was the library. Even though it held a wealth of knowledge on how to survive, it was untouched.

    • MikeofAges

      There are a few proletarian intellectuals in the ghetto. A few. Not a lot. A few. The thing is, a reader isn’t going to loot a library or a bookstore. And a non -reader isn’t either. Unless the s*** goes on too long. Then the illiterates will burn the books. Not for political motives. Just to boil water and keep the hooch warm. Always have, always will. Sometimes, a little realism about the human race is in order too. Even among the best, the margin is still thin. Asians with all of their proven talent, remained content to live in a traditional society. So did whites, until a few ambitious and restless souls upset the balance. And it could all go back. Not impossible.

      • MikeofAges

        Note to moderator: Think harder when you edit people’s copy. I was not thinking about rioting. I had a in mind more of a long-term “collapse of society” situation. That’s when the ordinary people starting looking for anything that will burn to keep the pot warm and the “hawk” outside the door. Nothing new in that.

  • MikeofAges

    Don’t deceive yourself. Many people from less than middle class backgrounds are smart enough. The system has no interest in them. Not unless their formal background is exactly the same as that of someone from an upper middle class background. Unless they are not white, of course. No outreach whatsoever for whitey. Maybe a few women, and few of them either unless they are Marxists.

    You see, white people from disadvantaged backgrounds are politically unreliable under our communism-lite regime. Even if they support a labor-oriented agenda, they are likely to hold realistic views on national security. And probably race as well.

    As I see it, the rad-fem-lib-lbgt regime has two life plans for you, maybe three. Start a business, make lots of money, and pay the taxes necessary to provide for everyone else’s self actualization but your own. And just shut up

    Or become a scruffy Popular Frontist activist doing the dirty work for your betters.

    The third way, I suppose, is to be a disgruntled, dispossessed conservative white male. Somewhere, you are supposed to get the money to drive around all day in a 17-year-old pickup truck with patriotic slogan plastered all over it.

    • lloydsauvante

      Or an expatriate. There must be someplace in the world…

  • MikeofAges

    Books? Inborn, man. Okay, some may not know how to read very , not have enough cultural exposure to under the test and have no test taking skills. That could truncate their

    scores. But keep in mind, even in the backwoods and the world of trailer parks and substandard housing, those with the most native intelligence will be the most likely to obtain the wherewithal to score on these tests. That will happen even with an individual who is not succeeding in school.

    Even in the case of black youth in the inner city, the same is true.

  • MikeofAges

    I never said that. I never said anything at all about that subject. The issue I raised is that there must be many people from lower middle class, working class, and disadvantaged backgrounds with the mental capacity to undertake higher education, including graduate and professional education, who have no outreach available to them.

    The issue is not what I will admit. It’s what you will admit. Hate to say it, but but you sound awfully doctrinaire and rigid.

  • MikeofAges

    You have no idea who or what I am talking about. I personally doubt the 15 percent figure, but even five percent is a large number. Even two percent is a large number.

  • You’re an idiot. If a wealthy family looses the bill payer for what ever reason, they may end up poorer than before. That doesn’t mean the IQ suddenly vanishes from the children. A social change in the family can easily happen to any and for a number of reasons, regardless of IQ.