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Should Colleges Abandon SAT Score Requirements?

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2801 threadsCC Admissions Expert CC Admissions Expert
"... The Case Against Standardized Test Requirements

At the national level, researchers have found evidence that standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT are worse predictors of a student’s success in college than other measures, such as high school GPA. At less-selective four-year public colleges, a student with a high GPA and a middling SAT score has a 62% chance of graduating within six years, while a student with the opposite credentials (high SAT score but mediocre grades) has only a 51% chance of graduation.

Though grading standards can vary enormously from school to school, high school GPA generally captures the sorts of behaviors that students need to be successful in college, such as showing up to class and turning in assignments. By contrast, standardized tests might measure how well students can cram before a high-stakes exam, but say little about long-term study habits and work ethic." ...

https://www.forbes.com/sites/prestoncooper2/2020/02/07/should-colleges-abandon-sat-score-requirements/#5f58fe6bedd3
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Replies to: Should Colleges Abandon SAT Score Requirements?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited February 7
    Probably the only reason that colleges use them is that high school courses and grading are not consistent in the US. They would probably prefer more achievement based tests (better predictors of college grades), but the SAT / ACT incumbency advantage means that a college switching to SAT subject tests (and AP or IB tests for advanced material taken before 12th grade) would lose access to lots of applicants.

    The main advocates of SAT / ACT appear to be the test companies and those who somehow think that they can be used to measure IQ in isolation and that IQ in isolation (as opposed to its effects on achievement) should be important in college admissions.
    edited February 7
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  • vonlostvonlost 18982 replies15458 threads Super Moderator
    Dave_Berry wrote: »
    "At the national level, researchers have found evidence that standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT are worse predictors of a student’s success in college than other measures, such as high school GPA.”
    Perhaps there are considerations other than predicting success.

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member
    vonlost wrote: »
    Dave_Berry wrote: »
    "At the national level, researchers have found evidence that standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT are worse predictors of a student’s success in college than other measures, such as high school GPA.”
    Perhaps there are considerations other than predicting success.

    Meaning the stronger association between SAT / ACT scores and parental money, which can help colleges raise the SES level of their students and reduce financial aid costs?
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1903 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Dave_Berry wrote: »
    . At less-selective four-year public colleges, a student with a high GPA and a middling SAT score has a 62% chance of graduating within six years, while a student with the opposite credentials (high SAT score but mediocre grades) has only a 51% chance of graduation.
    Would anyone be surprised that a student with a high GPA and high SAT score would have an even higher chance of graduating within six years?

    The argument that it should be eliminated because it’s not the best criteria would logically extend to evaluating everything that goes into an application and eliminating everything but the very highest predictor.

    Does anyone believe a single 500 word essay is a better predictor of college success? If not, why bother having it? No more holistic evaluations - back to force ranking based on one number? Because it’s “best”.

    More positively correlated data is rarely worse.
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  • vonlostvonlost 18982 replies15458 threads Super Moderator
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Meaning the stronger association between SAT / ACT scores and parental money, which can help colleges raise the SES level of their students and reduce financial aid costs?
    Or wanting to favor SAT over ACT (or v.v.), or wanting high or diverse test values, or wanting a few high SAT with low GPA, or ???

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  • EmilyShen2003EmilyShen2003 19 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I think that the SAT and ACT are still necessary but maybe schools shouldn't put as much emphasis on it as they are currently? Like it's unfair for a student who attends a highly competitive highschool but their potential is drowned out by other bright students. With that being said, a fair balance of standardized testing is perfect for college admissions
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  • EmilyShen2003EmilyShen2003 19 replies0 threads Junior Member
    But regardless, a lot of schools like University of Chicago are turning to standardized-optional testing systems. But then, it would only lower their acceptance rate as the number of applicants increases as they realize they don't have to submit their SAT or ACT. There's a study done on this system and the proof is that it makes the colleges every more prestigious and competitive
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  • EmilyShen2003EmilyShen2003 19 replies0 threads Junior Member
    So I guess, it's a really controversial topic in that sense. Just depends because it benefits different students
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1984 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Would anyone be surprised that a student with a high GPA and high SAT score would have an even higher chance of graduating within six years?

    I would hope it is an indicator of graduating in 4 years. I think it's shameful colleges and universities now quote 6 year graduation rates. They need to make it a goal to graduate students in 4 years and do everything on their end to make that possible. Of course the student has to do his/her part too but the idea of 6 years for an undergraduate degree needs to end.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited February 7
    I would hope it is an indicator of graduating in 4 years. I think it's shameful colleges and universities now quote 6 year graduation rates. They need to make it a goal to graduate students in 4 years and do everything on their end to make that possible. Of course the student has to do his/her part too but the idea of 6 years for an undergraduate degree needs to end.

    Colleges report both 4- and 6-year rates. 6-year rate is commonly seen as a proxy for students who graduate period (since only a few students graduate but take more than 6 years).

    However, most graduation rate differences are due to student characteristics. Entering academic credentials are likely the dominant factor, although financial situation in relation to affordability of the college is a significant factor as well (cost is a big reason for dropping out, and needing to take lighter course loads to work more hours slows progress to graduation). So it is no surprise that highly selective colleges that have mostly students from wealth and which are rich enough to give good financial aid to the rest have the highest graduation rates.
    edited February 7
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8751 replies82 threads Senior Member
    And schools don’t break out co-op students when reporting graduation rates. My D will technically graduate in 5 years but only 8 semesters/4 years on campus.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited February 7
    And schools don’t break out co-op students when reporting graduation rates. My D will technically graduate in 5 years but only 8 semesters/4 years on campus.

    It would be beneficial if colleges listed 8-enrolled-semester (or equivalent for other calendar systems) graduation rates to take into account students who do co-op or otherwise take gap semesters off college.

    But that would still be heavily based on selection effects. A comparison of a college's graduation rate to that expected for its students would be more helpful to those selecting colleges, since treatment effects are more likely to show there. However, some treatment effects may not necessarily be seen as advantageous -- those looking for more curricular rigor or rigorous general education may want to consider that such aspects may reduce graduation rates.
    edited February 7
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  • CanuckguyCanuckguy 1208 replies0 threads Senior Member
    Report of the University of California Academic Council Standardized Testing Task Force:

    https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/underreview/sttf-report.pdf

    Despite motivated reasoning, they cannot come up with a good reason to eliminate standardized testing. Here are the highlights for me:

    1) HSGPA + standardized test is better than standardized test alone, and standardized test alone is better than HSGPA (but UCs choose to overweigh HSGPA).

    2) HSGPA + standardized test is a better predictor of academic success than SES or ethnicity. R^2 is not all that different across income levels or race.

    3) Standardized test scores actually over-estimate URM performance in college.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3317 replies62 threads Senior Member
    edited February 12
    Canuckguy wrote: »
    Report of the University of California Academic Council Standardized Testing Task Force:

    https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/underreview/sttf-report.pdf

    Despite motivated reasoning, they cannot come up with a good reason to eliminate standardized testing. Here are the highlights for me:

    1) HSGPA + standardized test is better than standardized test alone, and standardized test alone is better than HSGPA (but UCs choose to overweigh HSGPA).

    2) HSGPA + standardized test is a better predictor of academic success than SES or ethnicity. R^2 is not all that different across income levels or race.

    3) Standardized test scores actually over-estimate URM performance in college.

    UC has much historical data due to their high number of students...the academic senate's report could even be used for other schools as justification to *not* go TO.

    There are some posts on this other thread as well: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-act-tests-test-preparation/2173306-uc-faculty-report-recommends-continued-use-of-sat-act-in-admissions.html#latest
    edited February 12
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member

    Canuckguy wrote: »
    standardized test alone is better than HSGPA (but UCs choose to overweigh HSGPA).

    Note that this was not the case in the previous UC studies (Geiser studies) upon which the heavier weighting of HS GPA was based. But HS grade inflation and increased competition for UC admission since then may have compressed the HS GPA range of applicants and admits at the top to where predictive value of HS GPA is lessened.
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 66 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 12
    Sounds like standardized testing should become more relevant, not less.
    edited February 12
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member
    Sounds like standardized testing should become more relevant, not less.

    But the other question is, are the SAT and ACT the optimal type of standardized test that can be used?

    Some past studies found that achievement based tests (SAT subject and AP) are better predictors of college performance, but SAT subject tests are dwindling in use, and are so little used now that a college that requires them will lose many applicants, and AP tests presume completion of AP level courses by 11th grade.
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 66 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 12
    Pure IQ tests would be much better. Combine those with HSGPA as a proxy for conscientiousness, and the colleges would have all they need to know about the intellectual capability of the applicants.
    edited February 12
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80199 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited February 12
    Pure IQ tests would be much better.

    There is no such thing as a pure IQ test that can measure IQ (however defined) without influence from learned material and/or test preparation.

    And once a purported IQ test becomes important for college admission, test takers will practice for it, and a test preparation industry will appear to sell its services to test takers.
    edited February 12
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  • lgs03lgs03 81 replies1 threads Junior Member
    The title of the thread is catchy.

    Drop it for what ?
    What do you suggest ?

    Should we have no requirements for anything ?

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