When the SAT asked however many thousands of high school seniors take it every year to find the word that relates most to ‘oarsman’ and the correct answer is ‘regatta’, half of the white test takers knew the answer and a fifth of black test takers knew it. The white kids were more likely to know the answer and a wealthy white kid was even more likely. Culturally biased test questions have created a ton of controversy because, problematic as it may be, colleges put a huge amount of weight on these numerical values in their judgement of applicants. Standardized testing has been notoriously culture- and race- biased. And the SAT (which makes its efforts) is no exception.
I took the SAT last spring and have 2 more scheduled for this Saturday. So I get a letter from the National Merit Scholarship about what they call the National Achievement Program. This scholarship judges the SAT scores of only African American test takers and gives scholarships after a round of semifinalists and finalists with the highest scores and a personal essay.
I do agree that the whole admission process needs to incorporate an applicant’s context, the school they went to, the city they live in, their cultural background. I’m just not quite convinced that isolating parts of my application in a racial group is really the best compensation for discrepancy.