Oxford's head of admission has explicitly said the dons do not want "second-rate historians who happen to play the flute".

So how do the Oxbridge schools select candidates... they go beyond using APs, A levels, IB diplomas, etc... In math there are the STEP tests[1] and in other subjects there are equivalents[2].

If US schools are serious about being base on merit, they should do something similar... the difference between a 770 and 800 SAT math is largely chance. A 3 hr test with 6 hard problems should give a clearer distribution.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Term_Examination_Paper
[2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...icants-simply-trained-pass-A-levels.html