Are SATs on the Way Out at Colleges?

Another top-tier university is making submission of standardized test scores optional. Find out which school is the latest to change its admission policy.

Are SATs on the Way Out at Colleges? Photo (cc) by US Department of Education

George Washington University is the latest college to make the submission of standardized test scores optional.

The private school in Washington, D.C., announced this week that, starting with people applying for the 2016-2017 school year, applicants will have the option not to submit SAT or ACT test scores. The “test-optional” policy takes effect in August.

It was adopted based on recommendations from a GW task force, which concluded that student success at GW can be predicted based high-school records, especially grade point averages.

Laurie Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management and co-chair of the task force, says the new policy should diversify GW’s applicant pool so that it includes more applicants who have historically been underrepresented at selective schools.

Such applicants include black students, first-generation students and students from low-income households. Koehler says:

“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.”

There are a few exceptions to the test-optional policy, however, such as for home-schooled applicants.

According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, also known as FairTest, GW is now one of 40 colleges and universities that have adopted test-optional policies since spring 2013:

Like George Washington, many of the institutions going test-optional in the past two years are among the most competitive in the U.S.

Those schools include Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

FairTest states that its running list of test-optional schools — including those that instituted their policies before 2013 — now includes more than 180 that are ranked in the top tiers of their respective categories.

That means more than one-third of top-ranked national liberal arts colleges have adopted test-optional policies.

Do you wish you could have gotten out of having to take the SAT or ACT in high school? Let us know what you think about test-optional college admissions policies below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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