- A number of test-prep industry representatives who took the new SAT in May were startled by a passage in the verbal section and a scenario presented in the math section that may have incited stereotype threat in girls.
- The New York Times reports the questions brought up negative stereotypes about women — that women belong in the home and that fewer girls take math classes — creating the possibility of test anxiety for girls who were reminded of a negative stereotype pertaining to their gender.
- The College Board says boys and girls of comparable ability did not perform differently on those questions, but tutors who took the test argue the stereotype threat could have impacted performance on the entire exam.
The SAT has long been criticized for a test that seems to favor white and Asian students who are wealthy and male. Boys do better on the test in both the verbal and math sections than girls. In this year’s test, tutors identified problems with potential stereotype threat against female test-takers. Critics who monitor bias against low-income students and non-Asian students of color argue there is a level of Eurocentric and middle-class cultural capital needed to understand some of the questions, which puts other students at a disadvantage.
In its latest revision of the SAT, the College Board claims to have paid special attention to these concerns, having experts vet questions for fairness and asking a representative sample of students to take a pre-test. The result was supposed to be an even fairer version of the college entrance exam, but complaints have continued.