More Colleges Remove Standardized Testing Requirements from Admissions Process

Posted By Eliana Osborn on June 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm
More Colleges Remove Standardized Testing Requirements from Admissions Process

For stressed out high school students thinking about getting into college, there’s a bright spot on the horizon: some institutions are dropping SAT and ACT requirements.  The University of Pugent Sound in Washington and LeMoyne College are just two of the latest schools to allow students to apply without submitting standardized test scores.

As research about test bias continues to grow, many colleges and universities are looking to other measures of student potential for success.  When the SAT was last revamped in 2005 and an essay portion introduced, many schools took that as an opportunity to change their enrollment policies.  Fair Test, part of The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, listed more than 800 colleges that didn’t require the SAT or ACT as of 2013.  Some of these schools are known as “test-optional,” where students are allowed but not required to submit test scores with their applications.

Some notable schools on the list include Bates, Bowdoin and Colby Colleges in Maine, Florida State University, the entire California State University system, Middlebury College, and New York University.

In a recent survey, Fair Test reports a growing trend toward test optional college applications, with more than 850 schools involved.  Liberal arts schools are the most likely to not require SAT scores, with about one-third falling into this category.

Because of changes to high school curriculum, as well as a shift away from colleges valuing scores, the SAT will once again be revised for 2016.  Critics say it is an attempt by the College Board, the producer of the SAT, to try to regain slipping profits.  The College Board, however, is trying to focus on their new slogan: “The new SAT is based on what you’re already learning in class.”

The SAT program is also trying to minimize a test preparation industry that simply coaches students on how to score higher.  The 2016 version will include free resources from Khan Academy to help all students to learn how to do their best on the standardized test.

Competition for college placement continues to grow, and more and more schools are starting to utilize subjective measures to find out if students are a good fit for their campus.  Essays or statements have always been part of the application package, but test-optional or test-flexible schools are shifting their focus, so that what a student says will be more important than how they do on a test.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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