No test score? No problem!

Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on May 27, 2008

It was reported this morning in the Chronicle of Higher Education that Wake Forest University has decided to go ‘test optional’ when it comes to undergraduate applicants. This means that the SAT and ACT tests will not be required for admission.

Currently, about 750 colleges and universities across the country are test optional, but Wake Forest is the most well known of the group. According to the story, diversity played a key role in the decision.

Wake Forest officials said their new policy was an attempt to create a more diverse campus (83 percent of the university's undergraduates are white). Administrators made their decision after reviewing research, including the results of a recent study by Bates College, in Maine, which dropped its SAT requirement in 1985.

Bates found that, over 20 years, there was virtually no difference between the academic performances of applicants who had submitted scores and those who had not. The two groups ended up with the same graduation rates. Bates also concluded that the policy had helped it double its applicant pool and attract a more diverse student body.

It will be interesting to see if this change opens the floodgates for more schools to go test optional.

Reader Comments

Melissa

May 27, 2008 4:24 PM

In the name of political correctness American universities are dropping the only way to accurately measure a student's academic preparation.

How are admission offices going to select students? Is it going to be based on High School GPA? That is a joke, as one who attended three different high schools I can tell you that a 3.5 GPA at one school is not the equivalent at another.

Heaven help us if it's just going to be a matter of filling a "diversity quota"!

James

May 27, 2008 6:28 PM

Melissa: How about letting schools choose students based on a broad array of achievements, experience and talent, including (if the student so desires) scores from a standardized test?

You sound as if you have a vested interest in the company that produces standardized testing.

As someone who scored extremely high on the SAT and then flunked out of college (before going on to eventually earn a masters degree), I can tell you first-hand that such scores mean absolutely diddly squat in terms of preparedness to succeed.

just saying

May 27, 2008 8:08 PM

SAT scores correlate nearly as well with college performance as high school grades... and the two together do so better than either one alone. The College Board says the tests shouldn't be used in isolation... but that the scores add to the complete picture. The vast majority of research by professionals in psychometrics and educational measurement backs this up.

As an aside, of course the scores are related to race… because race is (unfortunately) strongly related to poverty. It is idiotic to think that poverty (on average) is not related to college preparedness. To argue otherwise would mean you thought that eating three meals a day, being read to as a child, having parents who value education, and having attended quality schools aren’t related to college preparedness. (Not that the poor can’t have those things… but on average they have it less than the wealthy).

It should also be noted that high school grades and ranking also have major flaws - they are entirely dependent on the courses you've taken and the school you went to. A B-student at a "governor’s school" is likely far superior to the valedictorian at many rural and inner city schools.

Tech Company CEO

May 27, 2008 9:19 PM

I recall in the late 1970s that some psychology faculty at my university showed how they could very accurately predict a college student's graduating (college) GPA based on their SATs and high school GPA.

As an employer, I have found that the single best predictor of job performance in virtually all jobs I have ever hired fairly recent or fresh college graduates for is their SAT score.

One reason this is so valuable and necessary predictor for an employer is that colleges long ago quit giving their students much in the way of immediately useful skills -- and I am not excluding the very top universities with that comment either.

My companies will not be hiring any recent college graduates to didn't take the SAT -- or who did so poorly that they can't bear to mention their SAT scores.

Sorry folks, the free market system is merit based, and the SAT tests what you learned when you had a chance -- and predict what you will learn when I give you a chance.

My suggestion: let these schools shore up their endowments by letting in rich but dimwitted students. But if you aren't already rich, learn as much as you can in high school, and do your very best on your SATs.

Best wishes,

Dodge Johnson

June 1, 2008 5:55 AM

Nothing is pure here. There's a high correlation between affluence and SAT scores. There's a low correlation in predicting how a student will do in the first year of college.

Colleges not requiring the SAT must continually demonstrate to their faculties and trustees that theirs is the right policy. And their studies show that not only would the SAT not provide them with better students but that also they are magnets for students who are high achievers who test poorly.

What's sure is that the SAT makes admissions' job easier. It gives colleges an easy and defensible way to cut down the number of students who will get serious consideration - a pearl of price at a time when the choosiest colleges are so successful in bloating their applicant pools - and the staffs who must read applications are not about to grow commensurately.

Dodge Johnson
Educational Consultant

bob miller

June 8, 2008 10:44 PM

As someone who did extremely well on his SATs, I think that they are worthless. I went to Bates College and I can tell you all of those students that did poorly on the SATs were about the same academically as those who did well. You people that want to keep the SATs are snobby snooty people. And the CEO who actually asks people what their SAT scores are is an idiot. He's probably letting go a bunch of smart workers because they didn't do well. You snobs get off your high horse and stop being losers.

Bates Alum

June 25, 2008 2:12 PM

I think it's important to point out that the submission of SAT scores is not required, but is still accepted if you so choose. Let's say you did really well on the test. Great! Submit your scores. Not so excited about your performance? No problem, you dont' have to. I'd be a little concerned if I felt like the school I was applying to was heavily basing their decision on my standardized test scores. I also attended Bates. Yes, I submitted my scores but I was proud of them and was comfortable doing so. But I also took great comfort in knowing that Bates doesn't require them. They put a huge emphasis on your personal statement and your interview, which I think are a much better demonstration of who you are as a person.. and that you're not just some number.

E. DEL POZO

July 6, 2008 5:44 AM

MY SON RECENTLY WAS DENIED ACCEPTANCE INTO BATES. HE GRADUATED WITH AN I.B. DIPLOMA FROM SPRUCE CREEK H.S. WHICH WAS LISTED IN NEWSWEEK AS ONE OF THE TOP 50 HIGH SCHOOLS IN TH U.S. ALTHOUGH HE COMPOSED A BEAUTIFUL ESSAY, IS VERY GIFTED WRITER ,NOT TO MENTION WOULD HAVE BEEN AN ASSET TO THE SWIM TEAM, HE WAS NOT GRANTED PASSAGE FOR REASONS THAT WE STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND. HE SUBMITTED HIS SAT, EVEN THOUGH HE COULD HAVE DONE BETTER, AS HE KNEW THAT BATES DID NOT REQUIRE THEM. I DONT KNOW IF HE SHOULD EVEN BOTHER TO REAPPLY IN THE FUTURE. HE WAS GRANTED ADMISSION TO STETSON UNIVERSITY, WHICH IS WHERE HE WILL BE SPENDING THE 2008-09 YEAR.

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