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Why asking for SAT scores can be a fast track to age discrimination

Some job candidates have reported being asked for their SAT/ACT scores – this practice could be an insult at best, and age discrimination at worst.

A woman interviewing a man across a table, while the woman holds a clipboard and asks questions carefully avoiding age discrimination.

In a video that has gone viral, a 25-year-old TikTok user shares that a job recruiter requested her high school SAT and ACT scores. The user was contacted through her LinkedIn profile about a job. She has a degree from UC-Berkley and high school was almost a decade ago. Considering the SAT is scored differently today than it was when the user was in high school, there are many questions about this practice. The user ultimately ended up turning down the opportunity, believing the position to be more junior than what she was seeking.

This should be a good reminder to employers that they shouldn’t be asking for ACT/SAT scores. Not only is it insulting to anyone out of high school, it’s also a sure sign of age discrimination. 

Can the ACT/SAT tell you anything about an employee’s capabilities? 

According to U.S. News & World Report, the two exams are designed to help colleges gauge a student’s college readiness. Neither exam is preferred, it’s just a way to test someone’s critical thinking and analytical skills. Students who perform the best often spend months prepping to take the test. The tests are not inexpensive, so many times, low-income students do not even take the test.

Typically, the tests are taken while a student is still taking high school classes, so their education may not even be complete. Would you want to be judged on an optional exam that you took when you weren’t even considered an adult? How can that exam score relate to your abilities to be a good employee, especially when you have a college degree and a few years of employment in the job market?  

Asking for high school details can be indicative of age discrimination

As an employer, when you ask for details about high school accomplishments, you are implying that you’re looking for a younger employee. Many job applications are removing the date of birth to avoid discrimination claims. Some states even ban age questions on job applications. It’s recommended to avoid certain words, like “recent college grad,” “tech-savvy,” or “young” in job descriptions. You don’t want to dissuade older workers from applying.

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Don’t try to get around it by asking for high school transcripts or ACT/SAT scores. Personnel decisions are best left to experience and relevant education. We cover a lot of age discrimination cases, some which have cost employers a lot and some that were won because employers were careful to document decisions affecting older employees. Don’t open the door to discrimination.

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.


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