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Tuesday, August 4, 2015
GWU Drops Test-Score Requirement
With more than 25,000 students-10,000 of them undergraduates, George Washington University in the District of Columbia just became the largest U.S. school to drop the SAT and ACT testing requirements. GWU joins more than 125 private universities on US News & World Report's ranked list to dispense with the mandatory tests.
GWU's official statement on the issue sound promising. The university claims that it didn't want to discourage otherwise accomplished students, who may have had mediocre test scores, from applying. For years, discussion has swirled about the utility of standardized test scores. By and large, the scores skew along socioeconomic and racial lines, causing some to question them as an objective metric of academic skill.
Ironically, standardized tests were first introduced as a great equalizer. Since the rigor of high school curricula varies wildly across the country, an "A" from one school does not always carry the weight of an "A" from another. Standardized tests were designed to make it easier for admissions committees to measure students' aptitude.
Although high SAT and ACT test scores do correlate with long-term college success, the data is misleading when taken out of context. Wealthier students from superior high schools tend to perform better on the tests. These are the same students more likely to enjoy a long-term trajectory of success.
By making the tests optional, GWU and its counterparts are attempting to take a more holistic view of potential students. Their vetting process will refocus on high school grades and extracurriculars, taking into account a student's sustained performance over the course of several years, rather than several hours of test-taking.
With over 4,000 universities in the U.S., the test-optional schools still represent a tiny fraction of the nation's schools. Still, their novel approach to evaluating student candidates should serve as food for thought for the majority.
Labels: GWU Drops Test-Score Requirement
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