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New 'adversity score' added to the SAT

Now that the SAT will include an “adversity score,” high school and college counselors said it will help even the playing field.

NORFOLK, Va. — The SAT and ACT are often considered the make or break point of whether a student gets into their dream college, but starting this fall, the SAT will offer a new feature to push colleges to look beyond just the test score. 

It’s being called the “adversity score” and it takes the student’s background into account. The College Board is the non-profit that oversees the SATs and is leading the charge on the “adversity score.”  

Local counselors said it will help even the playing field.  

As an ACCESS advisor, Mary Carter Scott helps students at Norview High school in Norfolk navigate the college application and admissions process.

“If a student comes from a family where they can pay for tutoring, where maybe the parents expose them to you know, more books, more language, more opportunities, then that gives them a leg up,” said Mary Carter Scott.

The adversity score will take the student’s background into account by weighing 15 factors, like poverty level or the crime rate in a student’s neighborhood.

“I was thrilled to see this because historically you know students, disadvantaged and low-income students, have not scored as well,” said Scott.

Christopher Newport University reacted Friday, with Chief Communications Officer Jim Hanchett saying in a statement:

"At Christopher Newport, we have long focused on learning as much as we can about a prospective student and their strengths and challenges. We welcome a tool that may help us deepen that understanding in important ways and we look forward to learning more specifics."

College Board CEO David Coleman explained that the new score aims to measure what a student has overcome.

“For them to be able to identify, ‘Ok this is a school that has a high free or reduced lunch rate or this is a school where students don’t traditionally score well on the SAT,’ taking all of that into account will show that there’s more going on here,” said Scott.