Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit: Executive Summary

Over 815 colleges and universities across the United States admit a substantial number of students without regard to test scores. Read FairTest's report Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit on-line to learn more about test-score optional admissions, or review the Executive Summary below.

Profiles of "Test Optional" Colleges

University Testing: Alternatives

Many university leaders are realizing that the preoccupation with test scores hinders educational equity and has come at the expense of students' other high school experiences. These concerns, along with an awareness that test scores add little to an understanding of a student's capabilities, have led a growing number of colleges and universities to go "test-score optional." Schools that have dropped or sharply restricted their use of standardized admissions tests are widely pleased with the results.

University Testing: Scholarships

Many state-funded, college-based, and private scholarship programs are increasingly basing receipt of financial aid on measures of academic "merit" rather than monetary need. The amount given out by states under "merit" programs now more than doubles the money earmarked for "need-based" scholarships: in early 2001, 13 states offered "merit-based" funding to students that totaled $709 million, while in 1998-99 only $325 million was given out based on financial need.

University Testing: NCAA

Proposition 16 governs the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements for student-athletes at more than 300 Division I colleges and universities. Implemented in 1995, Prop. 16 is a more restrictive successor to Proposition 48, which went into effect in 1986. High school graduates who do not meet Prop. 16's requirements are precluded from participating in intercollegiate competition and may be denied athletic scholarships.

University Testing: Bias

In addition to their generally poor ability to predict achievement, their misuse, and their susceptibility to coaching, university admissions tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and MCAT limit educational equity and block access to higher education for otherwise qualified students.

2000 College Bound Seniors Test Scores: SAT

Total Test-Takers: 1,260,278, of whom 53.7% are female

2001 College Bound Seniors Test Scores: SAT

Approximately 1.27 million test-takers, of whom 53.6% are female

2005 College Bound Seniors Average ACT Scores

Approximately 1.19 million test takers, of whom 56% were female



2005 College Bound Seniors Average SAT Scores

Approximately 1.48 million test takers, of whom 53.0% were female


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