Should Colleges Still Require the SAT/ACT?


For decades, taking the SAT or the ACT has been a rite of passage for American high school students. Last year, about 4 million students took one of the two standardized tests that are required as part of the admissions process at many U.S. colleges. But there have long been complaints that the tests are biased, and a recent college admissions scandal included allegations of cheating on the tests.

Representatives of a standardized testing company and an organization that advocates for test fairness face off about whether colleges should require these tests.

YES Colleges make admission decisions based on a variety of factors, almost all of which are subjective or variable. Grades? Grade inflation is rampant. Courses taken? Rigor can vary dramatically from one school to another, which also affects grades. Class rank? It depends on a school's size and quality. Personal essays? Letters of recommendation? Interviews? All highly subjective.

The only factor that allows colleges to compare the readiness of any two students on the same scale is standardized test scores.

Your ACT/SAT scores mean the same thing regardless of your background, gender, race, or how much money your parents make. They allow colleges to compare students who attend different schools, live in different states, take different courses, and earn different grades from different teachers on an apples-to-apples basis. No other admission factor can do that.

More information is always better than less information when making important decisions. And ACT/SAT scores, used as one of many pieces of information, help colleges make better, fairer decisions. Research consistently shows that using multiple measures, such as GPA and standardized test scores in combination, results in better predictions.

Your test scores reflect what you've learned through your hard work in school. Let's say you and another student both took a pre-calculus course in high school, and you both earned an A. But the course you took was more rigorous, and you had to work a lot harder to earn that grade. So you actually learned significantly more--and are better prepared to succeed in a college-level math course--than the other student, even though your transcripts look identical. But how do colleges know this? Your standardized test scores can tell that story.

The ultimate goal of admission criteria should be to ensure that students land where they have the best chance to succeed. Standardized test scores clearly...

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