The SAT is “the” test for College acceptance. This was not always the case. Though few can remember a time when the SAT was not a part of College preparation, many have heard the stories of the SAT once being a government level test that was administered to enlisted servicemen who wanted to attend college. Today, with every college requiring SAT test scores as part of admission it is on every student’s mind. But where did the SAT come from?
In the Beginning
Early in the 1900s, France passed a law whereby all children were required to go to school. French psychologist Alfred Binet was asked to develop a test to identify a child’s intelligence. Binet developed the Binet-Simon Scale to determine which the developmental levels children were at, and whether they needed special assistance. This test was created to help children succeed in learning. Binet believed these tests to be limited, however, in their ability to truly account for all the factors which influenced intellectual development. He was against using one score or single number to quantify intelligence.
Coming to America
Binet’s tests were brought to America which drew a lot of attention. Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman took Binet’s work and standardized it to fit American protocols and it became known as the Stanford-Binet Test. From this, the field of eugenics emerged with psychometricians Lewis Terman, Henry Goddard, Robert Yerkes believing that IQ testing would show much about the intelligence linked of IQ to genetics, rather than social status.
From Soldiers to Students
During World War I, the US Military began administering a further augmented version of the Stanford-Binet test, named the Army Alpha and Beta tests, to sort soldiers into the best military positions for their aptitudes. The Alpha test was for soldiers who could read and the Beta for those who could not. Once the College Board was founded, this “IQ test” was further augmented to test the intelligence of college bound students, especially those seeking scholarships. In 1926, these tests were administered to students for the first time.
Off To College
Today, the SAT test is still considered the preeminent intelligence test. The test has changed and does continue to evolve, even today, to keep in line with current educational goals. In 2005, with the addition of a third essay section to the SAT, the scoring matrix changed from a possible 1600 point score to 2400 possible points. At this time the three sections are: math, verbal and the written exam.
The first SAT takers were given a mere 90 minutes to complete the test in 1926. Today, the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long and designed to give students enough time to complete all sections. Although the SAT initially contained Latin, Greek and physics, and 4 other sections for 7 in total, there are only three areas today. And in 1994, calculators were first allowed to be used on the Math Reasoning Test.
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