As an SAT tutor, I often got asked by my students if the SAT was an accurate measure of intelligence. Because I was the instructor and a medical doctor, I suppose this seemed like a reasonable question to ask. I was happy to report to all of my students that the answer to this question is an unequivocal, “NO!”. There is absolutely no evidence to show that the SAT is an accurate measure of intelligence.
The SAT is a 4+ hour long standardized exam that is taken by most high school junior or seniors. It is used by many colleges as a significant part of the student’s application. Some college count the SAT score for up to 25% of the total application. It is very important to score well on the SAT if you want to have your pick of universities to attend.
The current SAT has a math, verbal, and essay section. The math covers a variety of topics through basic algebra and some geometry. The essay section tests a student’s ability to write a short essay on a topic that is given to them. The verbal section tests reading and interpreting ability.
It is quite possible to do very well on the SAT if you spend the proper amount of time studying for it in the correct way. You don’t have to be highly intelligent to score well on the SAT, you just have to be willing to put in the effort to prepare for it.
Conversely, if you are naturally intelligent and you blow off the preparation, you aren’t going to score well at all. This is not a test that most students just walk in to and take with no prep – at least not those who want to score well.
I’ve seen many naturally intelligent students get arrogant about their abilities and blow off pre assignments – only to be outscored by students who are maybe not quite as naturally gifted, but who worked their butts off to master the material. This scenario plays itself out time and time again in SAT prep classes around the country.
Preparing for the SAT, even a minimal amount, can lead to large improvements in your score. This preparation can come in many forms. Private tutors are the most expensive, but can be a good idea for a student who needs one-on-one attention. Group SAT pre classes are more cost effective, but are like another class for the student. There are also a variety of SAT prep books available for the self-starters. Doing any or all of these things can improve an SAT score by quite a bit, especially compared to the students who don’t.
The SAT doesn’t test anything other than your ability to answer the questions on that particular exam. It is not a general test of a student’s intelligence. Intelligence will not get to you a high score. In addition, you can score quite well with a bit of hard work and preparation.