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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Throwback Fact: The SAT

This Saturday marks the first SAT exam of the year, so to celebrate, the Center of Math is going to talk about the history of the SAT for this week's Throwback Fact. Keep reading to learn more about the SAT!

The SAT originally began as a series of Army IQ tests that were used to test all recruits for intelligence during the first World War. This test was called the Army Alpha, and was the first mass IQ test administered. When the war ended, Carl Brigham, a young psychologist who worked on the Army Alpha, decided to adapt the test by making it more difficult so it could be used as a college admissions test. 
James B. Conant
Source: Wikipedia

In 1933, James Conant, upon becoming the president of Harvard University, wanted to start a new scholarship program for academically gifted boys. He asked Henry Chauncy, an assistant Dean at Harvard, to find a test that could evaluate applicants. Chauncy met Brigham and came back with the SAT (formerly the Army Alpha) and recommended the Harvard scholarship program use it. Conant liked the test because he believed it measured intelligence more purely, as opposed to measuring how well the testee had ingested the high school curriculum. In 1938, Chauncey was able to persuade the College Board to use the SAT as an exam for scholarship application. Soon afterward, the College Board decided to use the SAT for all college applicants: over 300,000 took the 1944 exam, which was quickly on its way to becoming the college admissions test for millions. 

The College Board is continuously updating the content of the SAT, and since its inception it has undergone several changes. In 1994, test takers were first allowed to use calculators for the math section, and in 2005 the SAT changed its score scale from 1600 to 2400, while adding a written essay and writing structure comprehension section. These changes will continue to happen: the College Board has announced that in 2016 the test will go through a complete overhaul, in an attempt to make it more accessible and effective. So make sure to keep up with the SAT to see what they may do next!
For help with the math portion of the exam, check out our Youtube playlist dedicated to the SAT. You can also check out our previous blog post about standardized testing, where we give tons of tips about taking the SAT exam. 

Best of luck to those of you who will be taking the exam this weekend! 

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