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Study shows standardized test scores do not predict college success


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SATs, ACTs and similar standardized tests have long been one of the more stressful components of the college application process. However, many colleges are moving away from admissions policies that require applicants to submit standardized test scores. Currently there are as many as 800 colleges that admit all or many students without ever viewing SAT or ACT results, according to The Washington Post.

The majority of these schools do not believe that a single stressful test is indicative of a student's intelligence or abilities, and a new study found that this may be true. 

GPA and graduation rates are similar
According to the study, titled "Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions," whether a student submits test scores when applying to colleges has no bearing on how he or she will perform once enrolled. The differences in GPA and graduation rates among students who submit scores and those who do not were so minimal that the report classified them as "trivial."

In fact, a better predicator of college performance is high school GPA, the research showed. Students who have high averages in school are more likely to maintain that impressive level of academic performance in college, regardless of their standardized test scores.

The one area where non-submitting students fall behind is with regard to merit-based financial aid. Many schools require standardized test scores for applicants to be considered for these awards, and non-submitters are passed over for the aid even though their grades may be better.

Trends among non-submitters
The study also noted some significant trends among students who refrained from submitting standardized test scores. These students are more likely to be the first generation in their families to enroll in college, and while they are also more likely to be minorities, students from all ethnic backgrounds take advantage of this option. Women, individuals with learning differences and Pell Grant recipients are also more likely to avoid submitting test scores.

Students choosing not to submit test scores are using a number of other college application strategies. Research found that these students apply early decision at a higher rate than their counterparts. They are also more likely to apply to schools farther away from their homes, perhaps in search of the right fit that also does not require standardized test scores. Regardless of the reasoning, this effort helps schools improve the geographic and socioeconomic diversity of their classes.

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