Less than five years ago I spent a beautiful August afternoon in a poorly ventilated gymnasium filled with hundreds of sweaty, nervous teens sitting in bubbles for the SAT.
But as much as I hated taking this test, I hate the idea of getting rid of standardized tests so much more.
The pandemic has led to an explosion of elective admissions policies at colleges and universities across the country (and rightfully so, as testing centers can easily double to become super invasive). But what started as a pause is becoming more and more permanent. 75 percent of the colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT. until Harvard He formally called for testing to be halted until at least the class of the 2030 admissions cycle.
The pandemic has coincided with growing hostility toward standardized tests, reinforcing concerns about demographic performance the differences In pursuit of fairness in admission.
Sure, the SAT and ACT aren’t perfect — a bad night’s sleep, a dead calculator, or holding pencils in the office next door can all put the person taking the test off their game — but it is a measurable measure of the ability to be balanced appropriately. Holistic with more subjective metrics, such as articles, interviews, and letters of recommendation.
studies Consistently proven that standardized tests are a good indicator of success on campus And the over a lifetime, even after taking into account the socioeconomic backgrounds of test takers. And because they are also strong interconnected With IQs, test scores are the kind of indicator that admissions officers should salivate.
Removing this objectivity from the admissions process would spell disaster.
Without the SAT or ACT, GPAs are the only fixed number colleges have to work with, but that measure is becoming increasingly meaningless. a study From more than 4 million seniors’ credentials, I have found that my GPA has been steadily rising for years. But just because scores are rising doesn’t mean kids are getting smarter—in fact, standardized test scores are declining.
While the average GPA has risen from 3.22 to 3.39 over the past decade, ACT scores have fallen from 21 to 20.3 over the same period.
“The main idea is that classroom inflation is real, it’s systemic, and really threatens the usefulness of school texts as a tool for determining what students know,” Dr. Edgar I. Sanchez, co-author of the study told me. “When you cancel the test, you cancel an objective measure, and you bring more subjectivity into the college admissions process.”
In a world without exams, what stops elite high schools from inflating students’ GPAs to compete for good college placement? Results? It is actually a measurable phenomenon: study of GPAs in North Carolina over a decade showed grade inflation in wealthier areas and stagnation elsewhere.
Amid a backdrop of stock-based hysteria, MIT has emerged as the voice of reason.
Analytics From recent MIT admissions courses I found that test scores were highly predictive of a student’s potential for success in college. Furthermore, SAT and ACT scores have also helped identify students from disadvantaged backgrounds with challenging circumstances who have the potential to shine on campus.
In March, an advisory panel at MIT unanimously chose to retake the standardized test in their admissions process, declaring, “We believe one requirement is more equitable and transparent than the test-optional policy.” Now, more schools must follow suit in restoring objectivity to the admissions process.
There’s a lot more at stake here than what the elite kids of an Ivy League school will go to for a gender studies degree. The demise of standardized testing is already having profound implications for the professional world. Now that movements are afoot to make the LSAT and MCAT optional for admission to law school and medical school (and even supported by the American Bar Association), it poses an important question:
Do you want the attorney defending you in court or the doctor performing the surgery in their place because they passed the high-stress test, or because someone wrote them a really great letter of recommendation?