Make ACT and SAT scores optional in all college admissions


If you’re a rising high school student preparing you for the grueling college application process this fall, you might well breathe a sigh of relief at this recent news:

Your odds of bypassing the 4-hour ACT or SAT are better than 50-50.

According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, more than half of all colleges and universities in the United States have now dropped the requirement that students submit ACT or SAT scores when applying for admission to the fall 2021.

Among the latest: the University of Illinois at Chicago and Springfield last Thursday, and Northwestern University just over a week ago.

In reality, schools right now don’t have much choice. The College Board has already canceled test dates across the country due to COVID-19, and “you can’t demand a test that students don’t have access to,” as vice-president Kevin Browne told us. -rector of academic affairs at UIC.

More fairness

But there is plenty of evidence that this is a welcome trend, bringing more fairness to the process for students from very different backgrounds, all the same. Colleges and universities should make this temporary move permanent.

As it stands, dozens of institutions, including the University of Chicago, have in recent years simply waived the requirement for prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores, although students are free to submit them if they wish.

As the best research has repeatedly shown, standardized exam scores are far from reliable measures of academic ability. Test scores can be heavily skewed by social factors such as family income and a parent’s education level – factors that have nothing to do with the academic potential of an enthusiastic college student. or at any other level.

Suppose your family can afford to set you up with a high priced SAT tutor or expensive group coaching. Your test scores will almost certainly be much higher than your less well-off – but equally academically gifted classmate.

When the average cost of an SAT one-on-one tutoring is $ 70 an hour and group classes cost $ 1,000 and more, who will get that letter of academic acceptance when admissions are based on standardized tests?

The kid whose parents have deep pockets, not the kid whose father drives a bus.

Grades matter most

The most reliable predictor of a young person’s success in college is not the result of a standardized test. It’s high school grades. Time and time again, research has shown that the best way to tell if a child can cut it in college is to look at how well it does in high school.

“What a student does over four years,” Browne said, “is more predictive of what he is capable of than what he did in four hours of testing.”

A groundbreaking January 2020 study by the University of Chicago’s Academic Research Consortium makes the point clear. The study, based on tracking more than 55,000 Chicago public school students, found that high school GPAs outweighed – by a whopping multiple of five – ACT scores in predicting who would get their grade. University diploma.

In fact, there was no strong correlation between ACT scores and leaving college.

“While people often think that the value of GPA is inconsistent in high schools and that standardized test scores, like ACT, are neutral indicators of college readiness as they are taken by everyone under the same conditions, our results indicate the opposite, “Consortium Director Elaine Allensworth said upon publication of the study.

“Ultimately, high school grades are powerful tools for assessing student readiness for college, regardless of which high school a student attends, while ACT scores are not,” he said. she declared.

A high ACT score might be a measure of what you’ve learned, even if someone were to point it out to you. A high cumulative grade point average measures a commitment to learning.

Great social equity

When college admissions officers focus on factors like grades, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities, they take a step toward greater social equity. After the University of Chicago became “elective test” in 2018 – and increased its financial aid programs – more first-generation and low-income students applied and were accepted.

We still believe that students should be able to submit standardized test results if they wish. There is something to be said for passing a high stakes 4 hour exam under pressure.

But what matters most, by far, are these four years of work in high school.

Send letters to [email protected].

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.