By Charlene Liebau|May 21, 2011|9:15 a.m.
College Admissions Editor
On the first Saturday in June thousands of high school students will take the SAT. Undoubtedly test takers will be using the next few days in last minute test prep after which they may be interested in learning its history.
When did it begin and why? The modern SAT is commonly viewed as a hurdle to gaining admission to one’s college of choice. Interestingly, it began as a way to evaluate students so they might be recruited to attend the nation’s most highly selective institutions.
In 1933 the president of Harvard, James Bryant Conant, wanted to develop a scholarship program to recruit talented students from a wider variety and diversity of backgrounds. He directed a Harvard dean, Henry Chauncey, to find a way to discover and evaluate potential students.
It was a meeting with Carl Brigham that provided the answer and eventual adoption of the SAT as the testing instrument. The first SAT, Scholastic Aptitude Test, had been developed in 1926 by Carl Brigham, a Princeton professor and psychologist.
The SAT grew in acceptance and use in college admission beginning in the late 1930s and through the 1960s.
In 1990 the test was renamed the Scholastic Assessment Test when the College Board acknowledged the test was a measure of learning rather than a true aptitude test.
Then, in 1994 the College Board realized the name “assessment test” was redundant and changed the name to the letters SAT. They also announced the letters SAT no longer represent words; they are just the three letters.
The SAT Reasoning Test is given nationally seven times during the academic year: typically the first Saturday in October, November, December, January, March, May and June.
Charlene Liebau is the former director of admissions for CalTech and Occidental College. She is also a finalist judge of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.