SAT changes

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Question: How have colleges adjusted their opinions and requirements for standardized testing since 1984?

In 1984, Bates College made the decision to stop requiring applicants to submit their SAT scores in order to gain admission, deciding to instead judge students based on their academic performance, accomplishments within schools, and the qualities of their personality.  Since then, over three hundred colleges and universities no longer require students to submit SAT or ACT when applying to college, and many of those do not require and kind of standardized testing to be submitted.  The growing movement demonstrates that colleges no longer look at standardized testing with the same weight as they did before 1984 and instead focus on high school achievements and personality as bigger factors.  This is a result of some schools losing faith in the SAT as an effective measure when comparing schools and no longer wanting standardized test scores to hold back qualified students.  While the list of SAT optional schools mainly comprises of smaller liberal arts colleges who receive fewer applicants, some larger state schools have joined in this recent trend of making what used to be a major component of the application process into an optional part where students who feel that their standardized test scores could hurt their college matriculation no longer have to send their scores or take any standardized test including the SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests.  However, some schools still ask that students to submit SAT subject tests and AP exam scores, but this still leaves students with the option of submitting scores in subjects where they feel they can perform strongest.  This list includes a number of schools ranked within the top 100 colleges and universities nationally and includes the entire NESCAC league and some larger colleges. Some of these colleges and universities will only consider standardized testing scores into their decisions when the GPA requirements are not met, or will only use those scores to determine placement and academic advising when a student has gained admittance.  The purpose of the SAT and standardized testing is shifting to give students the largest possible advantage when applying to schools.

When a school becomes SAT optional it is with the intent to make a school more diverse and to give each student more attention when observing their application.  Some defenders of the SAT suggest that schools will see a drop in academic quality if they continue to make the SAT an optional part of the admissions process and the College Board suggests that the movement should only pertain to vocational schools or schools that accept all of their applicants.

SAT optional schools as of 2010

Bates decided to implement their policy in 1984 when they felt that students kept telling them that they were more intelligent than their standardized test scores would suggest, and it was their scores alone that were stopping them from going to a school that fit their academic potential.  After the policy was implemented, one of the first students to benefit was a girl who had graduated as valedictorian from her high school and is now at Dartmouth Medical School.  However, when she applied to Bates her combined SAT score was less than 1000.  Since Bates never looked at these scores, she was admitted, and went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa.  The college has found that since their policy was implemented those who did not submit SAT scores during the admissions process have had nearly identical GPA’s and graduation results to those students who did submit their SAT scores.

One thought on “SAT changes”

  1. Charlie, in light of your new focus, I recommend that you expand your research question from basic description (“How have colleges adjusted their opinions and requirements for standardized testing since 1984?”) to deeper analysis (perhaps adding “and what factors motivated their decisions?” and/or “how have the creators of the SAT/ACT responded to these changes?). Also make sure that you are using the most appropriate sources for your new RQ.

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