Rethinking the ACT and SAT

TestA new study shows that high school grades, not the ACT or SAT, determine college success. William Hiss, the study’s main author, says “Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it.” The study found that college grades and graduation rates were virtually no different between those who took the standardized tests and those who did not.

The study sure seems to reflect common sense: 4 years of high school performance are a better indicator of college success than 4 hours sitting in a testing room on a Saturday morning. I remember taking the SAT when I was in high school. The test was given at a state college.  I drive down the night before but had no place to stay the night, so I slept in my car. It was cold, so I did not sleep well and got up every few hours to start the car and run the heater. After that long, uncomfortable night, sleeping in my clothes, with no breakfast, I sat down for several hours to take the standardized test. That short testing experience certainly was not an accurate indicator of my college potential.

Some students just do not respond well to standardized tests. This study shows that test-optional admission policies can help students from all backgrounds. Colleges and universities that adopt test-optional admission policies attract students that would not apply if admission relied on standardized test scores. The private test preparation market for the SAT and ACT is a $2 billion-a-year industry in the U.S. Hopefully, common sense will override profit.

“Life is a tragedy when seen close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” – Charlie Chaplin


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