SAT measures more than student performance, research shows it is also a reliable measure of IQ

02/11/04

Each year thousands of high school students take the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, hoping to gain admission to the college of their choice. Colleges and universities use SAT scores to help project a prospective student's performance. But research shows there is more to the SAT, that it is really an intelligence test.

Meredith C. Frey and Douglas K. Detterman, researchers at Case Western Reserve University, have shown that students' SAT test scores correlate as highly as, and sometimes higher than, IQ tests correlate with each other. This is strong evidence that the SAT is a de facto intelligence test. Their findings will be published in the June issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

While this finding may be surprising to many who take the test, it was no surprise to the researchers. The origins of the SAT can be traced back to intelligence tests that were originally given to screen entrants into the armed forces. Many who study intelligence had suspected that the SAT was an intelligence test though it seems no one had ever investigated the relationship.

The Case investigators studied the SAT for two reasons. First, they were looking for an easy way to obtain a measure of IQ for students who participate in their experiments on more basic cognitive processes. Giving an IQ test can take 30 to 90 minutes, and with a correlation between IQ and SAT scores, researchers now have a fairly accurate estimate of an individual's IQ without the need to administer a lengthy test. Second, it is useful to know the relationship between the SAT and IQ so that SAT could be used as a measure of IQ in cases where patients' IQs decline due to head injury or diseases like Alzheimer's. It is often important to know what a person's level of intellectual functioning was before the onset of the decline and many people have taken the SAT. According to the researchers, for those who have never taken an IQ test, the SAT could be used as a substitute.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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