"Test Score Optional" Admissions Enhances Equity and Excellence

University Testing

More than 280 colleges across the U.S. now admit some or all of their applicants without regard to SAT or ACT scores, and many say the policy has increased both the diversity and the academic quality of their entering classes, according to a newly released FairTest report.


Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit: Enhancing Equity & Excellence in College Ad-missions By Deempha-sizing SAT and ACT Results focuses on "lessons learned" at schools which have deempha-sized test scores. Detailed case studies present the experiences of three selective colleges, Bates, Muhlenberg, and Franklin & Marshall, as well as the Texas public university and California State University systems.


The 77-page study reported that colleges which have deemphasized standardized admissions tests have found that these reforms promote both equity and excellence. Applicant pools have become more diverse without any loss in academic quality, in part because a focus on test scores deters many otherwise qualified minority, low-income and female students.


Among the other "lessons learned" reported by admissions officials:


• High school performance is the best available method for screening applicants;

• Tests add little useful information to the high school record;

• Moving away from reliance on admissions tests promotes sounder educational practices in high schools by downgrading the value of multiple-choice exam preparation; and

• Other colleges considering admissions reforms can learn from the experiences of the colleges profiled in the report.


Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit includes a step-by-step guide for schools seeking to restructure their admissions requirements. The process begins with an "audit" of current test score use, followed by an analysis of the impact of these policies on the institution’s mission and goals. Questions a college should consider include:


• Do tests have meaningful predictive validity for significant educational outcomes, such as graduation rates, at that particular institution?

• Does that validity hold for all ethnic, age and income groups, and for men and women?

• Do the tests add anything of significance to what admissions officers already know about applicants?

• Are current test score requirements deterring potential applicants who would make successful students, particularly those from underrepresented groups?


An executive summary of the report, a list of schools where test scores are not required for some or all applicants, and quotations on new admissions policies from college leaders are posted at www.fairtest.org.


Copies of Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit are available for $12.00 postpaid -- please use the order form on page 15 or call for bulk quantity pricing.