Plausible reasons to be fearful 2

April 22, 2005

I would like to take issue with your suggestion that the trial of the SAT that we funded found "too little variation between successful candidates at A level and in SATs" to justify its adoption (Leader, April 15). The SAT was shown to be measuring "a different construct" from A levels and GCSEs. It identified bright students who had underperformed at A level and provided further discrimination between those who had performed well. Furthermore, it transferred easily to the UK; students in the trial received no test preparation or familiarisation, and on average scored as well as their US counterparts.

The Sutton Trust welcomes the development of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (Ucles) and the Australian Council for Educational Research test, not least because it demonstrates their belief that the time has come for a common test for the UK.

We believe that the advantages of the SAT are that it has been established for 70 years and it is taken by almost 2 million students in the US and 300,000 outside the US, which makes it attractive to UK universities as global players. But our goal is that access to university in this country should reflect students' abilities and aptitudes not their social background, school type or postcode, and we will support whichever test proves most effective in achieving that.

Tessa Stone
Director, The Sutton Trust

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