March 16, 2005
The old SAT is dead, but The Economist offers a proper eulogy, crediting it for "producing one of the great silent social revolutions in American history - the rise of the meritocracy." In the 1930s, Harvard president James Bryant Conant determined to break the WASP stranglehold that populated America's top colleges and universities with the feckless children of wealth. The SAT brought lower and middle income students into elite universities in record numbers and created the modern American meritocracy that has been the engine of America's economic growth and social equalization for half a century. The SAT allowed more opportunities for all students to achieve to their full potential. The Economist worries that the new SAT, with its writing requirement and junking of the analogy section, might signal a return back to something like the old WASPocracy, since it will reward students who have been rigorously coached in essay-writing. Wealthy students, who already hire companies to write and polish their applications, might again flood the elite colleges, taking advantage of their connections and resources, and crowd out lower-income students.
"In praise of the SAT," The Economist, March 10, 2005 (subscription required)