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More colleges are requiring the SAT/ACT: “The U. of Texas at Austin Is the Latest”

… the SAT is valuable for a number of reasons

During the Covid pandemic, many universities and college decided to forgo use of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT). The reason was simple: Students could not safely go to locations to take the test.

Some decided to make that permanent and now make them testing optional. Some like the University of California schools decided to forgo them entirely.

However, some who decided to eliminate them are now bringing them back as part of the admissions process.

The question is simple: Why?

The value — and controversy — about the SAT

Why did colleges use the SAT or ACT in the first place? They believe that those standardized tests give them a barometer as to whether or not the students can succeed in college. They have been criticized as being negative toward minorities, but that was never the major criteria.

However, the major value to schools today — and the reason that the colleges are bringing them back — is that they have no other way of determining the value of a high school. If high school grades are the only determinant, schools cannot determine the quality of local high schools.

The University of Texas at Austin is the latest to bring them back to the admissions process,

The University of Texas at Austin is once again requiring applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, the university announced Monday.

When the pandemic closed testing centers in 2020, hundreds of colleges went test-optional or test-free. UT-Austin chose test-optional. Now, several institutions are announcing permanent decisions about their SAT policies.

In recent weeks, Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale announced they were returning to requiring the tests. The University of Michigan declared it would stay test-optional. And boards for the University of North Carolina system and University System of Georgia aim to make final decisions later this spring, their spokespeople say.

At UT-Austin, leaders said they wanted test scores to help them better predict how students will do at the university. Those predictions, in turn, help administrators identify who should not be admitted (at least not right away) into more-demanding programs such as engineering and business; who should be offered additional academic support; and who is scoring highly in the context of their high school, even if their score is not impressive when compared with national or UT-Austin averages.

Francis Diep, “The U. of Texas at Austin Is the Latest to Bring Back the SAT

Requirement,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 11, 2024

Parents should be aware that the standardized tests are still valuable,

While they aren’t required for every school, they provide a great opportunity for your student to enhance their application.

These exams help colleges and universities evaluate a large number of applications and ensure that they are ready for the rigor of college academics. Plus, they give admissions representatives a more complete view of an applicant’s academic capabilities. Here’s what you (and your student) need to know about standardized testing.

A Measurement of Academic Preparedness

Every year, U.S. colleges receive thousands of applications, making it tough for administrators to narrow the pool of applicants. For instance, Azusa Pacific University typically receives around 6,700 applicants each year and admissions representatives have to choose which students will be accepted.

Ana Felce, “College Admissions: Why standardized testing scores

matter,” Azuza Pacific University, March 21, 2019

Most UT students take the test

The reason that they needed to have these scores is varied,

Standardized-test opponents often argue that test requirements discourage underrepresented minority students from applying, but UT-Austin’s leaders don’t think that will happen at the university. The College Board shared data with the university showing that 90 percent of applicants took the SAT, whether or not they submitted scores. That suggested that taking the test was not a “barrier,” Jay Hartzell, the university president, said during a news conference.

Meanwhile, test scores are important to making student-success predictions because many applicants have similar GPAs, Wasielewski said. Test scores can help differentiate between them: In the applicant pool for fall 2024, 42 percent of about 73,000 freshman applicants submitted test scores, according to the university. Score submitters tended to have higher scores than score withholders, and their average GPA after their first term at UT-Austin was 0.86 of a point higher than that of nonsubmitters, according to the university.

Chronicle of Higher Education

So, the reality is that students are better off taking the tests even if they are not required everywhere.

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