Only 37% Of Americans Believe The SAT Should Be Required For College Admissions

Nearly Half Believe High Cost of SAT Prep Courses Makes Test Unfair

NEW YORK, March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- According to the latest YouGov Omnibus research only 37% of Americans agree that the SAT should be required for college admissions and are evenly split as to whether or not the SAT is a good indicator of future college performance.  48% believe that the cost of preparation courses makes the SAT unfair to those who cannot afford them.


Is the SAT a good indicator of future success?

The SAT exam is designed to assess critical reading, mathematical reasoning, and writing and nearly 4 out of 10 Americans (38%) agree that the SAT accurately measures raw math and verbal ability.

Americans are evenly split over whether they believe the SAT is a good indication of how a student will perform in college, with 36% of Americans agreeing with the claim – and 36% disagreeing. Women are more hesitant than men to believe that the SAT gives a proper indication of how an individual will perform in college, with 32% of American women agreeing compared to 40% of men.

A little over half of Americans (51%) disagree that the SAT can serve as a valid indicator of how well someone will do in life, with less than a quarter of Americans (22%) believing the SAT is a good indicator of future success.  

Test changes

The College Board recently announced changes to the SAT, making the essay portion of the test optional and returning to a 1600 point scale. The test will be shortened by 45 minutes, and will abandon obscure vocabulary questions.

Most Americans remain indifferent regarding the proposed change to the exam, with 45% stating that they neither agreed nor disagreed when asked if the SAT should be kept in its current format.

Only 26% of Americans agree that the format of the SAT should be kept the way it is, while 29% disagree. However, 43% of Americans believe that the writing section of the SAT should not be made optional.

Americans struggle to define SAT "easily forgotten" words

According to the SAT's creator the redesigned exam will stop focusing on testing students on "easily forgotten" words that students often cram and use tricks to remember.

When asked to define a few words that have appeared on old SAT tests, Americans struggled.  67% could not correctly define the word "craven" (meaning cowardly or lacking courage).  Nearly 6 out of 10 (56%) were unable to define the word "germinal" (meaning beginning or developing).

SAT Financial and Emotional Stress

Nearly 1 in 2 (48%) of Americans agree that the SAT is unfair to students who cannot afford SAT preparation courses, while less than a quarter (23%) disagree with this statement. Parents of children under 18 are most likely to agree that the SAT is unfair to those who cannot afford any additional test preparation, with 55% of Americans who have a child under the 18 agreeing with this claim.

The SAT is often perceived as stressful for high school students seeking entry to college. Half of Americans (51%) agree that the SAT causes unnecessary stress for high school students, with nearly a quarter (23%) stating that they strongly agreed with this claim. Furthermore, nearly 3 out of 5 (59%) of parents of children under the age of 18, agreed to some extent that the SAT caused unnecessary stress for high school students.

For further information and full survey tables:

Note on Methodology

Total sample size was 1172 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 17th March 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

About YouGov 

YouGov is an international full-service research and consulting company, which has pioneered the use of technology to collect higher quality, in-depth data for companies, governments, and institutions so that they can better serve the people that sustain them.


Jenny Hall

212 724 3040

Media Contact: Jenny Hall, YouGov, 212 724 3040,

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