Nearly three dozen U.S. colleges and universities, all with one common thread, were examined in a large study published in February 2014. That common thread: the schools made SAT and ACT scores optional in their admissions process.
William Hiss, the main author of the study, wanted to compare how well students who didn’t submit an SAT or ACT score performed in college compared to those who did.
He found the average college grade point average for both groups was separated by a mere .005 percent. And graduation rates for nonsubmitters were less than one percent lower than submitters.
According to this data, SATs don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to predicting a student’s success at a particular college.
George Washington University doesn’t think much of them either. This week, the school announced it will no longer require applicants to submit their scores, with the exception of athletes, pre-med students and home-schooled students.
One of the goals is to accept more underrepresented students who have good grades but fear their test scores are not high enough. Others have said it will help students who can’t afford to spend as much money on test prep courses.
More than 800 other universities have this policy, or versions of it. Washington State University, for example, will accept any student with a GPA of at least 3.5, or who performs in the top 10 percent of their class, regardless of test score.
It’s an interesting experiment, and one we support if research continues to show that GPA is an adequate indicator of future success.
Students who work hard in class, achieve good grades and are active in extracurricular activities shouldn’t have to see their chances of getting into a good college dwindle because of one test score.