April 26, 20186:12 AM ET
There are now well over 1,000 colleges and universities that don’t require SAT or ACT scores in deciding whom to admit, a number that’s growing every year. And a new study finds that scores on those tests are of little value in predicting students’ performance in college, and raises the question: Should those tests be required at all?
Colleges that have gone “test optional” enroll — and graduate — a higher proportion of low-income and first generation-students, and more students from diverse backgrounds, the researchers found in the study, Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works.
In other words, colleges that go “test optional” aren’t all that ultra-competitive. Harvard and Stanford want test scores.
… Syverson and his team of researchers studied 28 public and private institutions that no longer require test scores, and tracked about 956,000 individual student records.
Now, an example from George Washington U., a private college with an amazing location practically right next to the White House. George Washington U’s big strategic brainstorm in recent years was to always try to distinguish itself by being the most expensive college in the land. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.)
This gimmick apparently worked at drawing attention and GWU is now much more fashionable due to its recent reputation as the most expensive college.
Students like Ian Haimowitz, a sophomore at George Washington University, a test-optional school in Washington D.C.
He says in the beginning, he felt like a fish out of water.
“I know for a fact I’m the first Nicaraguan-American, the first Latino, the first Jewish Latino that a lot of kids meet,” he says.
Wow, I never ever went to college with anybody who looks like Senor Haimowitz. I never once saw an MBA student at UCLA in 1980 who looked like Haimowitz. Thank goodness for Diversity!
… Ian was a straight-A student in high school, but his SAT scores were so low he didn’t think any top tier school would accept him. He says not having to submit his test scores opened the doors to a top selective school.
This year, George Washington received about 26,500 undergraduate applications from all over the country. Close to 20 percent did not submit their test scores, which GW says has helped enroll more students from diverse backgrounds.
Still, some researchers question the impact that test-optional admissions policies have had on schools.
Jack Buckley, a senior vice president at the American Institutes for Research, notes that while diversity improved at schools that have gone test-optional, that also happened “at the same rate among those that didn’t.”
In other words, says Buckley, test-optional schools are not more effective in enrolling minorities than schools that still require test scores.
Test-optional is a good way to let in more of the coveted Jared Kushner demographic of students who don’t test well but whose dads write big checks (at least when they aren’t in the joint) without getting your USNWR ranking dinged.