One of America's Top Universities Is Ditching the SAT to Boost Student Enrollment
Preparing for and taking the SAT and ACT tests has become a stress-filled rite of passage for American high school students. But on Monday, one of the nation’s most prestigious and competitive universities, The George Washington University, joined the ranks of colleges that will no longer require the high-stakes tests for admission.
The reason for the shift: boosting the enrollment of disadvantaged students.
“The test-optional policy should strengthen and diversify an already outstanding applicant pool and will broaden access for those high-achieving students who have historically been underrepresented at selective colleges and universities, including students of color, first-generation students and students from low-income households,” Laurie Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management and co-chair of the access committee, said in a statement. “We hope the test-optional policy sends a message to prospective students that if you are smart, hard-working and have challenged yourself in a demanding high school curriculum, there could be a place for you here.”
Since 2013 more than 40 higher education institutions that are included in the U.S. News and World Report’s well-regarded annual ranking of colleges and universities have moved away from requiring the tests, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, but GW is perhaps the most elite private university to drop the exams.
“The test-optional surge recognizes that no test—not the SAT, old or new, nor the ACT – is needed for high-quality admissions. Many independent studies and practical experiences have shown that test-optional admission enhances both academic excellence and diversity,” Bob Schaffer, the executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing said in a statement.
Indeed, the change at the Washington, D.C.,-based school indicates a growing understanding within higher education circles that scores on standardized tests don’t necessarily reflect a student’s academic abilities and intellectual capacity. According todata from the College Board, the creators of the SAT, kids from more affluent backgrounds whose parents have more education tend to score highest.
So what will the admissions team at GW look for in a qualified applicant to the freshman class of 2020? How about a few tried and true measures of achievement: Grades, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities.