College Admissions Leaders Embrace Testing Reform Agenda

University Testing

FairTest Examiner, December 2008

The country’s leading organization of school counselors and admissions officials is calling on colleges to drop standardized exam requirements and end test score misuses. The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) announcement came as FairTest released a survey showing that 775 bachelor-degree granting institutions do not require applicants to submit scores from the ACT or SAT (

The report from NACAC’s Commission on the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admission echoed many long-standing recommendations by assessment reformers, including:

  • Encouraging more institutions to consider ending their admissions exam mandates.

  • Stopping the use of “cut-scores,” minimum test requirements, for determining tuition aid eligibility; particularly in the National Merit Scholarship competition.

  • Condemning reliance on ACT/SAT results for “ranking” institutional quality.

  • Investigating the impact of test coaching, with a special focus on how students from low-income families are affected.

NACAC Commission chair William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, explained that the group “realized at the outset that a one-size-fits-all approach for the use of standardized tests does not reflect the realities facing our nation's many and varied colleges and universities. Instead, the Commission focused on critical issues that affect all institutions and the students they serve."

The NACAC report is sure to accelerate the movement toward test-optional admissions. More than 250 school representatives packed a FairTest moderated panel on the topic at the recent NACAC annual conference. The session featured deans from test-optional colleges and universities. After the presentation, more than 20 schools indicated that they were reviewing admissions exam requirements.

Nearly four dozen institutions have dropped testing requirements since the latest versions of the SAT and ACT were introduced in 2004. The test-optional list now includes more than two dozen of the nation’s most selective liberal arts colleges and nationally competitive universities.

The NACAC Testing Commission report is online at: