The Truth About SAT Changes

Lotta chatter about the new, improved SAT in the last week or so!

I suppose that if anything qualifies for “breaking news” in college planning, this would be it.  Overall, I think College President David Coleman’s announced changes are pretty cool.

As usual, there’s another side to the narrative that I have yet to really see in the mainstream news reports I skimmed over the week.

So here’s the rest of the story behind the College Board’s decision, and a little background.

Not so long ago, the College Board had a virtual monopoly in college prep. tests. The SAT was established in 1901, believe it or not.

In 1959, two professors at the University of Iowa created the ACT, because they felt that the SAT didn’t do a great job predicting students’ ability to perform in college.

The ACT caught on, mostly in the Mid-West.  For the most part, kids on the East and West Coasts took the SAT, kids in the interior of the country took the ACT.

Around the turn of the century, the ACT’s popularity exploded. They began to take market share away from the SAT, until it got to the point where all colleges accepted both tests, and the number of kids taking the ACT and SAT were virtually equal.

The College Board became pretty nervous about their competitor, and, for the most part, responded by criticizing the ACT.

That tactic didn’t work.  So, the College Board tried something new: shamelessly ripping off the ACT!

In other words, what’s really going on is that the College Board is making the SAT more ACT-like.  Read about them (fewer obscure vocabulary words, more straightforward math, etc.), you’ll see what I mean.

That’s why I cracked up when I read the Coleman’s comments about how “both” tests were broken and needed fixing.  Don’t look for any announcements about changes from the ACT.

What does this mean for your kids?

I don’t really think the new test will be easier or harder.  If it’s easier, I’m not sure if it matters.  After all, these tests are graded on a curve.

I do feel that the SAT and ACT will continue to be good predictors of how well a student will do in college.

But not the best predictors, as is the case now.

Examples of factors that correlate at least as much, if not more, than standardized test performance will continue to be student’s high school performance, whether the student’s parents went to college, and how affluent the student’s family is.

(I know these aren’t “fair.”  What’s your point?)

I know this isn’t politically correct, but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.

This is just another example of the business of college driving the train.

I’ve got a bunch of workshops teed up this month and next where I discuss how parents of college-bound teens can avoid overpaying and otherwise beat the colleges at their own game.

Check out our schedule, bring a friend or three!

Other stuff:

Class of 2014 Families:  admissions results continue to roll in – mostly good!

Another source of good news:  appealing (attempting to improve) financial aid awards.  One my favorite clients told me last week that her original offer from Johns Hopkins of $3,000 turned into $31,000 (not including loans)!

Her scenario played out almost exactly as I predicted last summer when we started working together.  We used the exact same techniques I outline in the appeals traning class, available on demand at


I’ve managed to pull my first book together, How to Pay “Wholesale” for College, on Amazon.  Next Tuesday, I’m running a one-day launch promotion on Kindle for $0.99.

My goal is to become an Amazon Best Seller and need your help!  If you’ve been reading my emails, enjoying the info and content, this would be a great way to show a vote of appreciation, if so inclined. I’ll notify you next week!

Your Correspondent,

– Andy Lockwood

P.S.  Want to pick my, ahem, brain about your 2015 college plan?  We offer 6-8 free, no-obligation 20 minute Strategy Sessions, priority given to recent workshop attendees and first-come, first-served.