Test prep is a rite of passage for many Asian-Americans

Non-SHSAT article that discusses the intersection of culture and single-measure testing.

Related to the Harvard case, test scores for all students should be considered with a grain of salt. Yes, high scores are impressive, but they should be understood in the context of opportunity. It’s also important to note that strong scores are the norm in Harvard’s applicant pool.

Given that test scores are limited in their ability to predict future achievement, and are heavily shaped by race and social class, colleges should consider the value of SAT-optional or even doing away with the test.

Overemphasizing a Test, Oversimplifying Our Children: An APA Perspective on Specialized High School Reform towards Educational Equity

The SHSAT is misperceived as an objective, and “colorblind” tool to measure merit. However, an expansive body of research reveals that school screening policies that do not consider race or socioeconomic status do not reduce, but rather contribute to further “stratification by race and ethnicity across schools and programs.”


In the field of testing, known as psychometrics, a single measure like the SHSAT violates the universally accepted norm and consensus in favor of multiple measures.[19] Having a single-test as the admission policy in no means takes into account the wide range of diverse experiences of all students and their families in New York City.

Evidence on New York City and Boston exam schools

The current admissions approach almost certainly shuts out many gifted, disadvantaged students. When we rely on parents, teachers, or students to make the decision to apply to a program for gifted students (by, for example, voluntarily signing up for a test), evidence indicates it is disadvantaged students who disproportionately get shut out.

But getting rid of the test is not the answer.  Well-educated, high-income parents work the system to get their kids into these programs. The less transparent the approach (e.g., portfolios or teacher recommendations instead of a standardized test) the greater the advantage these savvy, connected parents have in winning the game.

Exam High Schools and Academic Achievement: Evidence from New York City

Publicly funded exam schools educate many of the world’s most talented students. These schools typically contain higher achieving peers, more rigorous instruction, and additional resources compared to regular public schools. This paper uses a sharp discontinuity in the admissions process at three prominent exam schools in New York City to provide the first causal estimate of the impact of attending an exam school in the United States on longer term academic outcomes. Attending an exam school increases the rigor of high school courses taken and the probability that a student graduates with an advanced high school degree.