In a high school student’s Junior year, most of their world revolves around their decisions regarding higher education. A huge part of this crucial year is the ever-important completion of the SAT. The standardize test consists of two portions including a writing prompt and multiple choice answers in Math and Critical Reading. Many of the test takers ponder where the comprehensive assessment came from and why it is so crucial to the admittance process to a college or university.


The SAT was introduced to colleges in 1926 as a means of measuring a person’s aptitude, hence the original name “Scholastic Aptitude Test.” The College Board, creators of the SAT, struggled for years to have universities adopt it, so it was heavily used in military and experimental groups. An overview of the SAT’s history, published by Kaplan, stated that in 1934 Harvard was the first university that required students hoping to receive a scholarship, to complete and submit their test scores. The University of California was the first school to require any student wishing to be admitted to take the test. Shortly after UC made that decision in the late 60s, most higher education organizations jumped aboard the SAT bandwagon.


In 1975, a federal investigation was prompted by the FTC, claiming the test was “uncoachable”, but a deeper look into the questions proved their theory wrong. Though not successful on the FTC’s end, the development of this investigation led to a variety of tools, still used today, to assist students in their preparation for the exam. The name of the test was also changed to “Scholastic Assessment Test,” in 1994 to alleviate the impression that the questions only proved a student’s innate ability, rather proving that they truly obtain material taught in their curriculums.


Through its 90 year lifespan, the test has changed in various ways. The first time the SAT was adapted was in 1993-1994 with the elimination of the vocabulary section, and a greater emphasis drawn to the reading and math comprehension questions. The most dramatic change to the test was in 2005 when the writing section was introduced, along with its own grading scale. The test was formerly scored on an 800 point scale for each section (totaling 1,600 obtainable points), but with the addition of the writing section, the highest achievable points jumped to 2,400. The present day SAT remains the same, though some claim the math questions become more challenging each year.


For those hoping to attend higher education, the completion of the SAT is most likely inevitable. It is vital to understand the importance and origins of the test, as it allows universities to comprehend a student’s scholastic abilities at a higher level. To see just how much the test has changed, check out this PBS article that shares a site where you can answer and be scored on past and present SAT questions!