GPAs vs SATs

What started out as an IQ test for Army recruits in the early 1900s quickly became the most popular scholarship test for Ivy League schools. Today, the SAT is probably the most extremely useful tool in the college admissions process – something that many American high school students anxiously dread this time each year. With spring approaching rather quickly, news of admissions will soon reach these students as well; but many believe that what most colleges and universities across the country consider to be determining factors of a student’s ability, are not as nearly as important as grades received throughout high school. What does that mean for standardized test scores? While they remain to be a central part in determining which students get accepted into colleges, they are slowly facing the possibility of becoming obsolete.

A new study conducted by William Hiss, former dean of admissions at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, questions the purpose of these standardized tests, and examines what happens when you admit students into colleges based solely on their high school report cards. About 800 of the 3,000 4-year colleges and universities in the United States have made SAT and ACT score submission an optional element in the application process. Taking students who attend these schools on that premise under examination, Hiss has found that students who do not submit their SAT scores perform just as well, if not better than, students who do not withhold their scores. “In other words, those students actually performed better in college than their SAT and ACT stores might lead an admissions officer to expect.”

The study, as reviewed by NPR last week, is “a potential game-changer that may prompt schools to evaluate whether there is value in requiring standardized tests.” According to Hiss, “This study will be a first step in examining what happens when you admit tens of thousands of students without looking at their SAT scores. And the answer is, if they have good high school grades, they are almost certainly going to be fine.”

 

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