SATs to get into a job

Some employers are asking college graduates for their SAT scores, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Ironically, just at a moment when more colleges are questioning the value of standardized testing in the admissions process, some companies are taking a second look at the old scores.

. . . Since Goldman Sachs takes students from any academic background, (campus recruiting director Aaron) Marcus says math scores of 700 (out of 800) or higher indicate “whether they’re comfortable with numbers.” Applicants initially self-report test scores and submit a résumé that highlights leadership and work experience. An official college transcript is not reviewed until the company decides to make an offer.

Employers must be wary of grade inflation.

About Joanne


  1. Mad Scientist says:

    Personally, if any potential employer asked me for my SATs or any high school records, I would just laugh at them. I routinely leave that requested information blank (yes, all employers ask you to fill out their sacred parchment – I mean application form – for their records). I have never been called on it.

    But then again, that’s just me.

  2. Superdestroyer says:

    For college graduates, shouldn’t the GRE score be more important than the SAT score?

    However, another thing the SAT score would tell employers is who was admitted to a college as a legacy, a “diversity” admission, or a jock.

  3. Superdestroyer: Most college students don’t take the GRE. The GRE is only for people who are going on to graduate school, and it’s not anywhere near as universal of a test as the SAT.

    I went to one of those colleges that didn’t require SAT scores to be submitted. It turned out most of the students who didn’t submit them were legacies and athletes. And only a minority of students (30-40% if I remember correctly) chose not to submit their SAT scores.

  4. Three dsiconnected points:

    If I recall correctly, the Coleman report had one small finding that never got much attention. Kids learned more from teachers with higher test scores. It has been been almost 40 years since the report, so I would assume that other researchers have looked at the question. Anyone know if the finding held up?

    IQ tests, as part of job applications used to be quite common in buisness for entry level white collar jobs. SATs might be a reasonable and free substitute.

    Joanne may recall that, some months ago, I predicted that grade inflation would cause employers to look for other measures of applicants.

  5. I once interviewed at a place that didn’t look at people with less than 1500 on the SATs. That was just their easy weed-out. They were, indeed, looking for a particular kind of candidate.

  6. I forgot to mention — to teach test prep for Kaplan, you have to score at least 95th percentile on whichever test. It had been too long since I had taken the GRE to directly submit scores, but they’ve got their own equivalent tests to score people on. I thought it a reasonable requirement for employment.

  7. Where I work, I was recently asked to put together a short quiz for applicants. The reason was that we hired one man who I literally had to draw a picture for to explain how to go from µg/g to µg/100g – and he had a B.S. in chemistry. The quiz had some conversions, with factors given, some significant figure questions, and “what is a quantitative transfer?”. The first two applicants, both of whom had B.S.’s in science, bombed; the third did pretty well and we took him on. It’s scary that you have to do that.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    I hope the SAT score is only for entry level positions. If it is not, I guess it is the end point of the “no more late bloomers” program that most educators seem to believe in.

    Under the current honors systems in many suburban schools, if a student is not picked for honors math in 7th grade, they are eliminated from taking certain math and science classes when they are juniors or seniors.

    The not late bloomer idea really hurts kids who were so-so high school student but excelled in college. Such kids would have no chance of competing for jobs based on SAT scores instead of GRE scores. (I guess it is a corollary of too many people’s belief that the dumbest kid at Harvard is significantly smarter than the smarter kid at Northeastern).

  9. Yes, the Coleman finding has held up well. One link, to a study on certification:

    cites teachers’ verbal ability as the most significant factor in raising student achievement.

    I wrote a column on it, too, at:
    (URLs need to be all on one line)

  10. Hell, our local paper just printed that some 2700 plus 12th graders (22% of total number of graduation eligible 12th graders) may not receive a diploma in June due to failures in the math exit exam (some students have taken it upwards of 7 times).

    When I see claims like “eligible for scholarship, advanced diploma, etc”, I become skeptical over the issue of did the students actually earn the grades they received, or not?

    A recent report here in Nevada by NPRI ( states that most employers and college professors don’t think much of Nevada’s graduates, as 1/3rd of them have to take remedial courses in college in math and english (and some of these students were awarded scholarships)…

    Damn scary, if you ask me 🙂

  11. WORDWARP says:

    At least before the “re-norming”, you could just divide your SAT score by 10 and get your approximate IQ.

    1500 SAT = 150 IQ etc.

    Since IQ testing is now basically illegal for employers to give, asking for SAT is just a path around this law… correct?

  12. “Since IQ testing is now basically illegal for employers to give, asking for SAT is just a path around this law… correct?”

    Seems like it to me. And about damn time, too. The current workaround for being forbidden to give IQ tests is to require a college degree. If employers can now return to using a test that’s a hell of a lot quicker and cheaper than a college degree, it’ll save a lot of valuable time for lots of people.

    “Under the current honors systems in many suburban schools, if a student is not picked for honors math in 7th grade, they are eliminated from taking certain math and science classes when they are juniors or seniors. ”

    What is the problem that so many of our educators have with flunking people? The mere presence of failing students doesn’t “force” any dumbing down of the curriculum; only a reluctance to flunk those failing students will require a dumbing down of the curriculum. I suppose not being allowed to try the tough course is so much better than taking it and failing it?

  13. The SAT is a clear work around for the IQ test. Although the SAT is only partially an IQ test, it is close enough. The late bloomer argument won’t wash.

    The evidence seems strong that except for taking the test a second time (where unfamiliarity the first time artificially lowers scores), it is quite difficult for score improvement centers like Kaplan to improve the typical scores more than 30 to 50 points at the very best, even after maximum training.

    I daresay that anyone who takes the test twice and still scores 1300 is never going to get to 1500 no matter how hard he/she works and is coached.

    That’s why tough technical schools like Caltech MIT, Harvey Mudd, and Rice basically have no students with very low SAT scores, no matter what their background (Ivies have high median scores but fatter lower tails).

  14. Dave in L.A. says:

    Employers need to determine if their new hires have what their jobs require, and if are likely to be promotable to more demanding positions in the future. Obviously, for many employers, academic records are less and less useful in this regard. For entry-level positions, the temp-to-hire route is popular because school records reveal so little about actual acquisition of skills, not to mention aptitude.

    If colleges look at their salary surveys of recent graduates, they might see a strong correlation between SAT scores and job market success upon graduation. However, I doubt we will be hearing any schools publishing those results.


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