Adversity Score No More: Meet the SAT "Landscape"!

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Remember a few months ago, when the big news was that the College Board—the company that owns and operates the SAT—was going to fully roll-out something nicknamed the “Adversity Score” (a score from 1-100 that would have shown how “disadvantaged” a test taker was, based on general school and neighborhood information)?

Well, here’s the good news for the many people who hated that idea: the adversity score is no more!

Yes, due to massive criticism and backlash from schools, the media, test prep and college admissions counselors, parents, and the like, the College Board decided after all to NOT offer up this extra score to the colleges and universities receiving a student’s SAT I and SAT II scores.

However, don’t do your happy dance just yet!

The 1-100 number itself might be missing, but the College Board is still rolling out a way for colleges to see valuable intel about its prospective incoming class.

The Adversity Score has been replaced by the Landscape.

Landscape is a resource for college admissions professionals to utilize to capture a student’s social and economic background with a broad selection of data points. Originally called the “environmental context dashboard,” Landscape basically shares the same intel. It just doesn’t combine all these factors into a singular, definitive score.

The reasons for providing such personal data to colleges stems from a real need: with the streamlining of college applications with services like the Common App, the number of applications each school gets is staggeringly on the rise! This year, colleges will get over 10 MILLION applications from students at over 30,000 high schools! That’s simply too much leg work and research for many admissions offices to be able to thoughtfully read and evaluate your application!

Landscape (like the “environmental context dashboard” before it) is meant to provide consistent data that an admissions officer would have had to find out anyway—especially in institutions that have “diversity” and “need blindness” as core values. If an admissions officer can locate a true “rising star” who transcended her environment to achieve a relatively high test score, then the system has done its job, theoretically speaking.


So, how does the Landscape affect YOU?

What’s so interesting to note is that there are two different takes on ANY type of socioeconomic test prep “landscaping”:

  1. Wealthier families tend to fear that a high test score will be invalidated if there was no “disadvantage”...

  2. But on the other hand, private institutions that are conscious of their not-quite-overflowing endowment size might actually PREFER students who appear on paper like they might pay their own way!

Though it’s important to note that a college using Landscape agrees they will never use information on Landscape as “primary or sole detriment of an admission decision” the end of the day, who really knows?

The moral of this story: find the test that shows you off best (SAT or ACT), make a PLAN to earn the kind of score you need to get in, and then keep your head down and DO THE WORK to get that score! At the end of the day, a stellar SAT score will help your case more than contextual data points could ever harm it. Know what I mean?

You’ll never get far by worrying about new policies. After all, you’ll never truly know if they will ultimately work for or against you! (There’s a case for both!) In test prep AND in life, keep moving forward, regardless of the excuses and the distractions and the naysayers. If you need help tuning out the “noise” and creating a solid PLAN, contact me!