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Commentary: Time to Ditch the SAT

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,758 Senior Member
"We need an education system that teaches students to be thinkers, not standardized test takers." ...


Replies to: Commentary: Time to Ditch the SAT

  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited April 2018
    Time to Ditch the SAT
    I agree, but not just quite yet.

    Neuroscience is moving towards a consolidated measurement of brain processing power - call it a "brain processing score" - based on physical correlates like brain morphology, glucose uptake rates and fMRI measures of neurobiological pathways. It will be correlated with all the sorts of important outcomes we expect from able and educated people. Moreover, it cannot be changed by the test taker any more than she could change her natural eye color. So, there will be no need to worry about "privileged' kids getting unfair advantages, as in SAT and ACT scoring today.

    We are probably not more than 10 or 15 years away from this. A brain processing score, when coupled with demonstrated achievement in prior academic endeavors, will hopefully revolutionize the college admissions process. Well, at least some of us can dream....
  • droppeditdroppedit Registered User Posts: 1,019 Senior Member
    @SatchelSF -- none of that is necessary. After having watched this college application season, I believe that scores above a certain threshold (say, ACT 30-32) have very little to do with admissions to top schools. I have no idea what those schools were looking for. I saw several kids with top scores (ACT 35+), ECs, get nuked at every top 25 school. All were smart and all were different: one was hardworking and diligent, another was somewhat weird, another creative/quirky, etc.

    In the end, even though it was painful for them, it'll be a good thing that these kids are spread out across the country.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    The ACT/SAT sounds much better than that [brain processing scores].
    I sort of agree. But it depends where you are sitting, right?

    If you are a poor kid, without access to the educational opportunities, the carefully curated ECs, the consultants, the sports camps and coaches in the desirable niche sport, the "helping hands" throughout your life, etc., you just might embrace the possibility that you possess some exceptional attribute that circumstance has obscured from the view of the otherwise all-seeing college admissions officers.

    Conversely, if you are a highly privileged aspirant, with all the access outlined above, such a score would do little to enhance your profile, and you just might fear the possibility that those same officers would discover a deficiency.

    I always like to look at the now decades-long attempts (largely successful) to water down tests and inflate GPA through this sort of lens. It helps me understand what is really going on.
  • frozencustardfrozencustard Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    Standardized test are only one part of an application and meant to supplement GPA, rigor of courses, class rank, essays, extra curricular activities, and other things that make up an application. They could replace the SAT/ACT with tests modeled after AP exams, but to a basic high school level, which test knowledge. AP Exam scores were studied by the College Board and proven to be a good predictor of success at the college level, so maybe there should be a charge to offer a more basic version. We get to the point of whether we don't like the SATs because they are standardized or don't like them because we don't like the tests, themselves.

  • JenJenJenJenJenJenJenJen Registered User Posts: 1,116 Senior Member
    AP Exam scores were studied by the College Board and proven to be a good predictor of success at the college level, so maybe there should be a charge to offer a more basic version.

    This sounds like the studies by the American Tobacco Institute that found no relationship between smoking and lung disease. How about a study from a neutral source?

    Here's an interesting article! https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/nail-biting-standardized-testing-may-miss-mark-college-students "Former Dean of Admissions for Bates College William Hiss led the study which tracked the grades and graduation rates of students who submitted their test results against those who did not over several years.

    Hiss’ data showed that there was a negligible difference in college performance between the two groups. Only .05 percent of a GPA point set “submitters” and “non-submitters” apart, and the difference in their graduation rates was just .6 percent.

    There are about 850 test-optional colleges in the U.S., and the trend is growing slowly.

    What should college admissions officers look for instead? Hiss says GPA matters the most."

    Considering that hundreds of colleges are now test optional, including Middlebury, Skidmore, and Wesleyan, and those three and others are still cranking out successful adults, I agree that the time for the necessity of the SAT/ACT is coming to an end. Not that the College Board won't put up a fight!
  • frozencustardfrozencustard Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member

    @JenJenJenJen , you are free to read the study. It's fact based and they are pretty much telling you that AP Exams are better predictors than SATs. They administer both exams. It makes no sense for them to have a preference of one over another.

  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,754 Senior Member
    edited April 2018
    No way. These exams aren't perfect, but they're the one place kids can compete equally. Getting rid of them would move things way way too much in the "Holistic" (ie: racist against white and asian) direction that things are already heading.

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,863 Senior Member
    hzhao2004 wrote:
    If SAT/ACT is ditched, what's the alternative?

    In places where the universities trust the consistency of high school courses and grading (e.g. Canada, at least within provinces), external standardized testing is not required. But US high schools are much less consistent in this respect, so many universities hesitate to going without any common measure (however flawed as they may see it) at all.
  • Vincent1997Vincent1997 Registered User Posts: 796 Member
    I definitely see why we have standardized exams. Too many good students have the same grades as bad students. The main reasons is the difference in academic difficulty of high-schools, teachers and countries as a whole. However, the downside is that these tests are very "conform". A student might be declined from a business school, despite being very good in business, because he has a bad SAT score. There is no easy solution to this problem; however, it is clear that something has to replace the SAT's eventually.
  • KLSDKLSD Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    "Across the country, students practice for and take the SAT rather than read books in their entirety, play musical instruments, spend time with friends or family, work, learn foreign languages, write poems or play sports. Because of the test's high stakes, schools will gear their entire literacy curriculum around preparing for the test."

    This is not our experience. SAT and SAT subject tests were taken without prep. AP exams on the other hand were considered in the curriculum, specifically in the wording of any quiz and test during the course. My students did not spend as much time reading for enjoyment in their later years of high school, but it was because they were reading text books, doing labs, playing sports, working and spending time with friends.
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