Letters to the Editor: I basically flunked the SAT. More than 60 years later, I am still ashamed


To the editor: I’m glad to know that I might live to see the demise of the SAT as a requirement for college admission. This is a test that traumatized me and so many other low-income kids.

In 1959, when I was 17 years old, I was informed that I needed to take the test if I wanted to attend college. Knowing almost nothing about it, I scraped together the fee and appeared at the testing site. Confused, I panicked and just chose answers randomly.

When the result came back, I was ashamed to see that I had gotten almost the lowest possible score.


Fortunately, because of my good grades and first-place prize in a citywide essay contest, I still believed in myself, so I applied to the nearby college that accepted almost everyone. During my first weeks there, I took an academic placement test and demonstrated that I knew enough to do college work.

It wasn’t until graduate school that I learned that the SAT correlated most with a student’s socioeconomic background. My low score reflected the fact that I came from a home where my parents worked low-income jobs and did not have a high school education. In contrast, my son had an almost perfect score on the SAT and went to Harvard.

We’ve known for many years that rich kids tend to do better on the SAT than poor kids. Do we really need a test to tell us that?

Linda Mele Johnson, Long Beach