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. This impact weighs especially heavily on Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, females, and low-income students. For example, when minimum test score requirements are used to determine eligibility for state-funded scholarships, students of color receive disproportionately fewer scholarships due to their lower test scores. Bias against females on the SAT - largely attributed to the timed, multiple-choice format of the exams - can be demonstrated by the fact that females receive better grades in college (the outcome the SAT is supposed to predict) when matched with males in comparable classes, yet score 35 to 40 points lower on the SAT. The link between family income and test scores is also very clear, with students' test scores rising as family income rises. Such problems are among the many reasons why colleges and universities across the United States have dropped test score requirements for some or all of their applicants.

To learn more about the ways bias in university admissions tests limits educational equity, visit the following pages:

Gender Bias Fact Sheet - read how undergraduate admissions exams disadvantage females

National Merit Scholarship - learn how this prestigious scholarship program cheats females out of millions of dollars

State-funded scholarships - analyze data from states such as South Carolina, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Florida that show how test score cut-off requirements for scholarships hurt students of color

Examiner articles - read FairTest Examiner articles about the negative impact university admissions exams have on young women and students of color