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From SAT mediocrity to the White House?

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley '65 graduated from the University magna cum laude, went on to become a Rhodes Scholar and was arguably the greatest basketball player ever in the Ivy League.

But had he been applying for the Class of 2004, he probably would not have been greeted by Dean Hargadon with a letter exclaiming YES!


Bradley scored a less-than-stellar 485 on the verbal SAT, according to an article by Geoff Kabaservice, a history professor at Yale.

The article, posted online at Microsoft Network's Website Slate refers to a personal letter from former Princeton admissions director E. Alden Dunham III that Kabaservice found in the Brewster Presidential Papers at Yale while doing research on a biography of Kingman Brewster, president of Yale during the '60s and '70s.

Kabaservice cited the scores along with Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's slightly stronger 566 verbal SAT — which was recently reported in The New Yorker — to argue that such aptitude tests cannot be the sole basis for college admissions.

To Bradley's credit, he took the test before score-raising courses like Kaplan, Princeton Review or even Hooked on Phonics existed. In addition, Kabaservice noted that the SAT has been re-centered in recent years, causing overall scores to increase by up to 100 points.

But the scores certainly did not sway Kabaservice's opinion of Bradley. "I think very highly of Bill Bradley. I'd love to see a Bradley-McCain election," he said in an e-mail yeseterday.

A representative from Bradley's campaign was not available for comment.


The moral of the story is that the American dream can still be realized even for those students who don't perform so well on standardized tests. Any child who has the goal of some day becoming President of the United States can do it, even if they commit the ultimate Ivy transgression — scoring low on their SATs.

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