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The disparity between SAT scores and students’ college admissions is founded in long-lasting inequalities, according to a study conducted by economists at Opportunity Insights. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Recent research has indicated a correlation between higher parental income and elevated standardized test scores among students, The New York Times reported.

Economists at Opportunity Insights compared SAT and ACT scores from 2011, 2013, and 2015 to federal income tax records of students’ parents spanning the previous six years. Analysis by The New York Times found that children from affluent families had more substantial representation within the elite college demographic.

Approximately one-third of students from the top-tier income families scored 1,300 or more, in contrast to less than 5% of their middle-class counterparts. Moreover, children from families with lower incomes had restricted access to these standardized tests, with one in five attempting the test.

The income bracket of a family can significantly dictate the quality of education their child receives. The Urban Institute emphasizes that higher wealth enables better educational opportunities, including access to books, tutors, private schooling, and other educational assets.

The quality of education received varies depending on how much funding a school receives. Students with more wealth are likely to have access to high school education, which provides them an advantage in the college application process and in preparing for standardized testing, CNBC reported

Race is a notable factor in the issue, but income segregation has been found to be the “driver of achievement gaps,” research from Stanford's Center for Education Policy found

In 2023, Penn announced it would continue its undergraduate test-optional admissions policy for the 2023-24 application cycle. The Class of 2027 is the third class admitted under the policy, with the Class of 2025 being the first.

Approximately seven out of 10 of Penn’s incoming first-years did submit test scores in 2022. Penn's median SAT score has increased from 1490 to 1535 in the past five years, while the median ACT score has increased from 33.5 to 34.5.