SAT is worth its salt 1

November 1, 2002

You are right to argue that universities should make allowances for candidates from schools with poor results ("Tackle suspicion that plagues UK admissions", THES , October 11). Admissions systems based on predicted A levels can fail to indicate potential in lower-achieving state applicants. But your dismissal of the Sutton Trust-funded UK trials of the US scholastic aptitude tests (SAT) as a useful addition to this process is premature.

The study, commissioned from the National Foundation for Educational Research, found that the SAT I reasoning test measured a different construct from GCSEs and A levels. It identified 30 students (5 per cent of the sample) in low-attaining schools who scored high enough on the SAT to be considered by a US Ivy League institution, but only one of these scored 3 As at A-level.

A levels have only limited ability to predict degree performance. If we are to achieve an equitable university admissions system, we must develop a means of assessing academic potential beyond A levels.

Tessa Stone
Director, The Sutton Trust

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