Tag Archives: test-optional

If you thought the academic year that just ended was crazy, you might not want to look ahead. Anything having to do with college admissions and testing exists in a state of perpetual, exasperating flux. But in the absence of clarity, we can always rely on common sense, right? With so many questions about test optional application policies and uncertain test dates swirling about, my friend Allison Dillard–math professor and author of Crush Math Now and Raise Your Math Grade–has been hosting a series of Facebook Live sessions to provide answers. I first met Allison as a guest on my podcast to discuss high impact strategies to help students succeed in math, and this time she was the host as we tackled a topic on the minds of students and parents everywhere: Do Colleges Still Want the SAT, and Should We Take It In Fall? And, yes, I really do…

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In May 2020, in the midst of the most bizarre semester American college students have known in generations, the regents of the University of California voted to phase out the SAT and ACT tests as a requirement for admission across all nine of its undergraduate campuses. They took this step much further than other schools, who chose to allow test optional admissions for the high school class of 2021 due to inconsistent testing opportunities. UC adopted a position of two years of test optional followed by two years of test blind despite the findings of its own task force that said that test scores were often a better indicator of college success than grades. In doing so, they overrode the unanimous vote of faculty to keep SAT and ACT scores as part of a holistic admissions process. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Too bad New York might follow the same ill-advised…

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After weeks of hearing speculation, misinformation, and consternation about the future of the SAT and ACT in admissions, I need to share my thoughts on the matter of test optional policies. This article was first published on LinkedIn but found its way back home. COVID-19 has changed the world in more ways than we can count. Certainly, the American education system will never be the same again. Not only have we all become intimately acquainted with the agony and ecstasy of online learning (can’t say teaching because not everyone is doing that) but the traditional path to college seems to be meandering through uncharted territory. A number of schools have explored test optional or test flexible admissions policies, but the current crisis (and a couple of cancelled test dates) seem to have triggered a flood of interest in removing test scores from the admissions equation. But if we accept the…

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No phrase better captures the trend in college admissions over the last decade than test-optional. “We will use SAT or ACT scores to evaluate your application,” test-optional schools say, “but we will evaluate your application–without bias–without those scores if you choose not to send them.” The college admissions process boils down to a Herculean effort to sift through thousands of applications to find the 5-25% that project to align best with a school’s academic environment and culture. Admissions carries high-stakes for both sides. Why then, would an admissions team choose to tackle this task without the one data point explicitly designed for college admissions? The primary defense for test-optional admissions–apart from the fact that some people just don’t like standardized tests–is to promote diversity. Socioeconomic groups that lack access to the public education or private test preparation resources that lead to higher test scores find themselves at an apparent disadvantage…

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