The SAT places an unfair financial burden on low-income students. Not only is the test itself costly, but students must take expensive preparation courses to do as well as they can. The current fee for the SAT is $45 plus $9.50 per school for each college the student applies to. Since most students improve their scores when they take the test again, a student typically must take the test two or three times to get his or her best score. So for most students, the test itself costs more than $100, sometimes as much as $200. Many students must also pay for help in preparing for the test. Students and guidance counselors believe that preparing for the test is necessary for a student to do as well as he or she can, and even the College Board acknowledges that test preparation improves scores. Students can spend another $100 on SAT study and practice guides and as much as $800 for prep classes from companies such as Kaplan. Students clearly have an advantage if they can afford a large investment in classes, guides, and multiple tries at achieving their best possible scores.Now look at two versions of the second paragraph, in which the writer acknowledges and responds to two objections raised by the College Board. Each objection defends the SAT against the charge of unfairness.
A) Now the College Board defends itself by saying that it offers financial aid to low-income students. But that is little help because it only changes the nature of the burden on low-income students. The College Board also claims that prep courses do not make a large statistical difference in scores. But the fact remains that the SAT is simply too expensive and too unfair to poorer students.
B) The College Board is aware of how this financial burden disadvantages low-income students, but it tries to suggest that the disadvantage is not significant. For the test itself, the College Board offers fee waivers to low-income students. This can be a big help, but only the poorest students qualify. The fees are burdensome to many students who do not qualify. And students who do qualify must get the waiver from a guidance counselor. This is an additional burden for all low-income students, and can be a significant burden for students in poorly staffed schools. As for study guides and prep courses, the College Board admits that they raise scores, but claims that the increase is statistically too small to matter. The increase averages only about 30 points (excluding the new writing test), according to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (Jaschik). But the same report finds that a 30-point increase typically has a significant effect on admissions decisions, especially for more selective schools. And the test prep companies point out that the average increase includes the results of all kinds of preparations, including ineffective ones. According to one company, students who complete all assignments in its course improve on average 150 points without private tutoring and 170 points with tutoring (Jaschik). No one except the College Board seems to believe that the advantage to wealthy students is not great. And if that is the case, the test is too unfair to be required for college admission.