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Why colleges are reconsidering their reliance on standardized tests for admission

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2600 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
"A college admissions scandal involving several celebrities has cast an ugly spotlight on how entry into higher education can be gamed. Standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are a key point in the saga, and they now face renewed scrutiny over their value — and their correlation to economic background. John Yang reports and talks to Jeff Selingo, author of several books on higher education." ...

Video with text transcript.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-colleges-are-reconsidering-their-reliance-on-standardized-tests-for-admission
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Replies to: Why colleges are reconsidering their reliance on standardized tests for admission

  • CU123CU123 3607 replies69 threads Senior Member
    Its certainly become obvious that the SAT/ACT should become an optional piece of the puzzle similar to what the SAT subject tests are rapidly becoming. No reason to force those who have otherwise stellar applications to take these tests and submit scores. Not saying they should go away just become optional.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4415 replies18 threads Senior Member
    I don't know. My sons school is known to be one of the hardest in the state but still didn't do well on the Act without help. Yes some LD issues. I think if they are going to use these tests they all need to be revamped. I guess Act is starting to do that,whether one agrees with that or not.
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  • yearstogoyearstogo 659 replies30 threads Member
    I think they are probably useful depending on the applicant. I can definitely see how they would not add much in many cases, for instance, an AIME/USAMO qualifier would be add much more for an applicant than an 800 on the CM section and SAT Math II.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2028 replies17 threads Senior Member
    It's an interesting trend. S attends Wake Forest, among the highest ranked test optional schools and has been test optional for many yrs. Admissions is one thing. Ability and success at the college level is another. They have done studies demonstrating no significant difference (with and without test scores) in the admitted student's ability to succeed at Wake, a school known for its academic rigor (some call it grade deflation).

    S did submit his scores and most of his friends did as well. Not sure what the cutoff is for scores to help. I would think nothing below a 1400 but I have no idea.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78557 replies695 threads Senior Member
    In my area I notice huge grading inflation or deflation among various high schools and individual teachers. Some of the suburban publics are very difficult to get a high GPA and hard to get in honors and A.P. classes. At some marginal public high schools it's quite easy to get in the NHS. Standardized testing should help to qualify this but there are so many factors.

    Grade inflation in high schools has been found to be higher in affluent schools, according to https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2018/09/24/new-study-shows-widespread-grade-inflation-high-schools , although there could be local variation.
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  • twokids2gotwokids2go 6 replies1 threads New Member
    My D20 is another who tests poorly. She is a slow reader and just cannot finish either the SAT or ACT in the time allotted. Maybe we could have gotten her tested and gotten time accommodations but it didn't seem important as she does really well in class (even though it probably takes her twice as long to complete some of her homework as peers). She has a 4.0 unweighted and will have taken 9 AP courses by the end of senior year. I have no doubt she could do well at any school but will admit she has applied to many test-optional schools due to her SAT/ACT scores being lower than her peers.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1666 replies10 threads Senior Member
    edited November 9
    milgymfam wrote: »
    @MWolf I don’t think the scores correlate that simply to GPA at all and should not be used in that way. My D19 had. 4.0 unweighted GPA in high school- from three different high schools, three different dual enrollment colleges, and now is easily holding close to 100 averages in all her first semester classes at Haverford. She came NOWHERE close to a 1500 on the SAT. Why should a test invalidate all of her hard work?

    Good point - the system would need to have alternative verification pathways for the many very bright kids who don't do well on standardized tests.

    The point is that, while it has bee demonstrated that GPA is a much better predictor of college success that SAT/ACTs, using GPA alone awards grade inflation. So there needs to be some sort of standardized verification.

    In Israel, there are that matriculation exams which everybody takes. Each subject has its own test, with different levels, each level providing a different amount of credits. The tests are mostly taken at the end of 11th and 12th grades (high school graduates don't attend college the year after high school). Curricula are standardized and grade inflation is meaningless. Each test also has its own format, as well.

    I don't know if that could work in a country with about 6 million high school juniors + seniors, at about 37,000 high schools, in 50 states.
    edited November 9
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5604 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "It seems there are no easy answers."

    This is my take on it. An A at one high school is not necessarily the same thing as an A at another high school. However, SAT and ACT tests do not measure the ability to work very hard over four years of school, which is a skill. Also, SAT and ACT scores do to some extent measure the parent's ability to pay for SAT preparation and a tutor. I don't think that there is any easy answer.

    Based on what I saw coming off the family printer around midnight back when my daughters were in high school, I am not sure how much of the surplus of A students these days is due to grade inflation, and how much is due to there being more kids who are very good students. There are more kids who care about being A students than there were back when I was in high school.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1448 replies35 threads Senior Member
    We're all prejudiced by our own or our kids' experiences with tests. If we, or our kids, do well on these tests, we're generally in favor of them. Otherwise, we're negatively predisposed to these tests.

    Tests and exams exist for a reason. Most classes have exams to measure how each student did. How else would a teacher know a student has mastered the material independently? Unless there're standardized matriculation exams as @MWolf pointed out in Israel, how else would a college know a college applicant has mastered the HS materials? HS qualities and standards vary dramatically in this country as we all know. How can anyone consciously argue that an A from one HS is the same as one from another? What's the alternative to standardized tests?
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 890 replies14 threads Member
    edited November 9
    I would say individual subject exams are a better metric than what we currently have with the SAT/ACT- I would also say that the tests should not be a speed test. The crazy amount of apps that every school gets each year doesn’t lend itself to department exams designed by the individual schools, which would maybe be even better. I don’t think my daughter has EVER gotten less than an A in any classroom test, ever. How that translates to a truly average SAT score I don’t know, but it did. She has ADHD and anxiety. She’s SO not a morning person. Other than that, I’ve got nothing to even begin to explain it. For the record I’ve always hated the tests, all the way back from when I took it in high school- where I scored 1500+ and was in NO way ready to go off to college and succeed- it took be 12 years to finish my bachelors degree.
    edited November 9
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21395 replies223 threads Senior Member
    "Because grading standards and the curriculum vary so widely, some form of standardized testing is almost essential."

    Yet, many colleges, including some very selective ones, disagree with you. The list of test optional schools continues to grow.
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 2849 replies155 threads Senior Member
    Yet, many colleges, including some very selective ones, disagree with you. The list of test optional schools continues to grow.

    Test-optional is not the same as test blind. At places like the University of Chicago, 85-90% of students still submit ACT/SAT scores and ACT/SAT scores continue to remain an important part of the admissions process. As far as I know, Hampshire is the only college in the US that is truly test-blind, and doesn't consider ACT/SAT scores at all.
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