College Board introduces the ‘Adversity Score’ to help underprivileged students

This article discusses the new Adversity Score that has been implemented by the College Board

The nonprofit organization behind the SAT test – The College Board – has revealed that it plans to widely introduce an ‘Adversity Score’ to accompany each student’s test results. This new addition – first reported by the Wall Street Journal – will attempt to look at a variety of different factors regarding students’ social and economic backgrounds. The primary goal of this rating is to level the playing field for students who are not given the same advantages as wealthier applicants.

The rating itself will be scored on a 1 to 100 scale. A score of 50 would indicate an average student while a higher score indicates more hardship. Students attending wealthier, high ranked school districts will receive lower scores than those attending schools that exhibit lower academic opportunities and class achievements. Continually, each student’s score will be affected by their neighborhood conditions such as median family income and crime level; however, race will not influence the score (see graphic below).

How the adversity score is calculated

The SAT is taken by over two million students each year. This new ‘adversity score’ will provide essential information about students’ schooling environments, and, most likely, it will strongly influence the evaluation of applications and distinguishing between applicants. Furthermore, it has been College Board’s priority to address the concern regarding income inequality influencing SAT results. The chief executive of The College Board, David Coleman, stated that, “There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more. We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.” According to Coleman, The College Board has been perfecting their solution to this issue since 2015.

Currently, the rating system has been tested at 50 universities, including Yale. According to Yale’s dean of undergraduate admissions, Jeremiah Quinlan, Yale has already doubled its enrollment of low-income students in one school year (via Wall Street Journal). The primary motivation behind these actions was to promote socioeconomic diversity on the campus. The College Board organization hopes to expand this system to 150 more universities and colleges this fall.

With that being said, questions have emerged regarding the accuracy of this new score due to the fact that it is a broad estimate and cannot take into consideration a student’s personal life. Struggles among family members, divorce, bad parental influence – all these are factors that can strongly affect one’s performance at school as well as their score on the SAT. Nonetheless, the ‘Adversity Score’ is a step in the right direction in order to ensure a more fair evaluation for every student that applies to universities across America. The score will encourage admission counselors to accept individuals with lower SAT scores in knowing that the student could perform above the excellence indicated by his or her standardized test score when provided with the university’s resources and opportunities. Although the ‘adversity score’ is not directly personalized and students cannot view it, it provides the foundation of background information to visualize a student’s potential.

Works Cited

Andone, Dakin. “Report: College Board Will Introduce ‘Adversity Score’ for SAT Test Takers’ Social and Economic Backgrounds.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 May 2019,

Belkin, Douglas. “SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 16 May 2019,

DeFranco, Philip. “The SAT Adversity Score Explained.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 May 2019,

Stenn, Lili. “College Board Will Add ‘Adversity Score’ for SAT Test Takers.” Rogue Rocket, 17 May 2019,

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