U.S. unemployment data is not as rosy as it seems, as LNWM’s Chief Investment Officer Bob Benson recently pointed out in this video. In fact, it’s such a “buyer’s market” for labor that some employers are asking applicants of all ages for their SAT scores.
And the College Board is revamping the SAT exam for 2016 to make it more relevant to the workplace.
Is a more work-related SAT a good thing? Not necessarily.
First of all, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence – if any – that SAT scores correlate to job performance. For some perspective, I emailed my friend Tamara Hlava, a highly experienced “head hunter” and now HR Director at Column Five, a visual design agency in Newport Beach, CA.
Tamara’s response: “SAT scores are sometimes interesting, but it’s more of a novelty for me to know that a programmer scored an 800 on the math section. We tend to care more about how someone can creatively solve problems, collaborate, communicate under pressure and bring value to brainstorms. I actually LOL’d recently when a candidate in his late 30s included SAT scores on his resume! No substitute for lack of mobile-development experience.
Sherry Lehman, HR Director at our own firm, agrees. “We’re primarily looking for people with strong and proven experience. So SAT scores aren’t very helpful. It’s really the interview process that lets us zero in on people with the critical skills required for the job.”
Even Google, who used to look closely at grades, scores and alma mater, changed course a couple of years ago. Evidently, its data showed that A+ types didn’t always make better hires.
The Class of 2017: Seating for New SAT
Even as more employers are asking for SAT scores — and more job seekers are providing them on LinkedIn and Facebook — the College Board itself (creator of the SAT) has admitted the test is weak on assessing job-related skills.
This week, the College Board announced it’ll revamp the SAT in a pretty dramatic way to make it more in tune with what students are likely to face in the workplace. In essence, the SAT is becoming more like the ACT, which has surpassed it in popularity.
Personally, I kind of like the current SAT’s wily approach. It tests how quickly, accurately and methodically students can apply their knowledge. Obscure words like “protean” pop up that few will use in the workplace (although I am now). And the math is full of traps. Because of this, the SAT has been an alternative to the more practical ACT, but probably not for much longer.
Protean Skills Preferred
Given globalization and the changing skills required in the workplace, students who come equipped with the broadest possible skillset are likely to have long-term advantages. Many of the entrepreneurs and business owners we work with here at LNWM got where they are because of unconventional thinking and wide-ranging interests. If we teach and test in a way that’s too closely related to the current workplace, it seems we’re limiting our long-term potential.
In most of Europe, where testing is more directly tied to lessons learned at school, the results aren’t very impressive. Sophomores in high school choose a path – science/math, econ/business, or literature/arts. They then pretty much stop taking core classes in the other topics. By the time, they’ve finished high school, students are already hobbled career-wise.
Thankfully, we are far from this type of pigeon-holing. But a more job-related SAT does concern me.
BTW: The first official takers of the new SAT will be this year’s 9th graders (who will take it as juniors in 2016).
Let us know what you think: Is a revamped SAT likely to help lower U.S. long-term unemployment?