Validity Studies

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New studies provide first-year performance data

The College Board introduced a revised SAT, with an additional writing section and minor changes in content to the verbal and mathematics sections, in March 2005. Colleges and universities across the United States provided first-year performance data for the fall 2006 entering cohort of first-year, first-time students to validate the use of the SAT in college admissions.

Two studies are now available (Requires Adobe Reader (latest version recommended):

The final sample included 151,316 students attending 110 colleges and universities.


Results of the SAT Validity Studies

The College Board research studies analyzed these data submitted by the 110 colleges that participated in the College Board's Admitted Class Evaluation Service (ACES). These colleges received their ACES study results in the fall and winter of 2007-08. Many other colleges and college systems, such as the University of California system, conducted their own studies. For both the University of California and the College Board studies, the results are similar. Writing is the most predictive section of the SAT, slightly more predictive than either math or critical reading. In the California study, SAT scores were slightly more predictive than high school grade point average (HSGPA). In the College Board analysis of the more than 150,000 students included in all 110 ACES studies, HSGPA was slightly more predictive than SAT scores.


Validity of the SAT for Predicting First-Year College Grade Point Average study

The main analytic method used for this study was the comparison of single and multiple correlations of predictors (SAT scores, HSGPA) with first-year college GPA (FYGPA). All correlations were corrected for range restriction.

The results show that the SAT continues to be a very strong predictor of first-year college performance, and that the changes made to the SAT add to the test's validity. Read a summary of the key findings. (.pdf/32K)


Differential Validity and Prediction of the SAT study

The purpose of this study was to assess the differential validity and differential prediction of the revised SAT for gender, racial/ethnic and best language subgroups. Differential validity exists if the magnitude of the test-criterion correlation varies by subgroup. Differential prediction occurs when a test systematically over- or underpredicts the criterion (e.g., FYGPA) by subgroup. The results are similar to prior research indicating that changes to the SAT did not diminish the differential prediction and validity of the test, and the SAT continues to be a fair test for all students. Read a summary of the key findings. (.pdf/49K)


Implications of the studies

Both the College Board and the University of California studies indicate that writing is the most predictive section of the SAT. Colleges not requiring an admissions test with writing, therefore, are overlooking the most useful section of the test and one of the best predictors of college success to which they have access. Writing as a college-level skill is a crucial asset for student success, an important message reinforced by colleges that require admissions tests with a writing section.