What one college discovered when it stopped accepting SAT/ACT scores

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What one college discovered when it stopped accepting SAT/ACT scores




The key quote:

Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround.

• The quantity of applications went down, but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays. Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants.

• Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago.

• The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 10% to 18% in this year’s class.

Our “No SAT/ACT policy” has also changed us in ways deeper than data and demographics: Not once did we sit in an Admissions committee meeting and “wish we had a test score.” Without the scores, every other detail of the student’s application became more vivid. Their academic record over four years, letters of recommendation, essays, in-person interviews, and the optional creative supplements gave us a more complete portrait than we had seen before. Applicants gave more attention to their applications, including the optional components, putting us in a much better position to predict their likelihood of success here.

I’ve literally never seen any proof that standardized testing is useful for assessing students or for institutions finding quality candidates.

Personally, I just think they exist because the industry is worth billions of dollars. Not to mention how much the test prep industry is worth.

AND these tests maintain classism and racism (which was actually their original purpose–to make sure Jewish kids couldn’t get into colleges).

Now these tests severely marginalize low income 1st gen students and Black Americans and Latinos.

Bear in mind, I say this as someone who is a good tester. I rock standardized tests. I’m brilliant at it.


Beyond the whole “Base huge sections of your life on how you are doing on one morning”, we are seriously talking about a test where a huge element of doing well is understanding standardized tests. That’s not a useful life skill! I remember marking answers that I knew were right for the test and I knew were wrong, or could be argued to be wrong, based on real life knowledge. I missed a single question on the vocab/reading half, and the whole time I knew it was bullshit. My math score would’ve been higher than it was, but even for good test-takers like me, the timed sections can be brutal. There’s a difference between being good at math and being good at math fast.

But that’s just the SAT. You wanna know what’s really screwed, take a look at the GREs.

When I took the GREs, there were two testing facilities that administered them that I could conceivably get to. Both had highly limited hours. NEITHER of them were accessible via public transportation. There were NO facilities in either the city where I was attending university OR my home town (which also has a masters-granting university). I had to bus down two hours, spend the night on my cousin’s floor in Seattle, and then have her drive me up to a freakin’ stripmall in Mountlake Terrace (i.e, there wasn’t even one in Seattle proper). For a test that is REQUIRED for grad school admissions! When you add in that plus the testing fees, the damn thing is a gate to keep people out even before you look at the content of the test.

I was also a hundred points worse on the GRE than the SAT. I didn’t get stupider; I just hadn’t taken a standardized test in four years, so the standardized testing skill had atrophied (because it is actually freakin’ useless).