Getting Into College Without the SAT

We all know teenagers who don’t test well.

There are all sorts of legitimate reasons why some students, even bright ones, can’t earn decent numbers on the dreaded SAT test.

It used to be that parents and students could rail all they wanted against the test, but it wouldn’t matter. Colleges and universities wanted to know what their applicants’ scores were. And these scores could make or break a child’s academic plans.

The SAT boogyman, however, doesn’t look as intimidating anymore. In the face of growing criticism about the SAT’s fairness and relevance, a growing number of colleges and universities are now offering an escape route. It seems like every week another institution announces that it is making its school SAT optional. Wake Forest University is one of the latest to make the switch.

According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), nearly 760 schools now no longer require that applicants take the SAT or the ACT, which is the other standardized test.The SAT rebels include some of the most prestigious schools in the nation. In fact, about one third of the top 100 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, now don’t require the SAT.

Many of the schools, which have dropped the SAT requirement are liberal arts colleges. These colleges typically have the luxury of evaluating a child holistically. Lots of public universities, which may have tens of thousands of applicants, are still more inclined to use grades and the SAT as major admissions factors. The Ivy League school are also clinging to standardized testing to measure their applicants.

You can find a list of all SAT optional schools here.

Supporters for making the SAT optional argue that the move makes the college admissions process fairer. Frankly, the test is currently rigged in favor of students from more affluent households who can afford to take SAT prep classes or pay for private tutors. Ditching the test would help level the playing field for all students.

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) argues quite persuasively that SAT scores are a lousy predictor of how a student will fare in college. FairTest argues that two better predictors of a student’s success in college are grade point average and class rank.

FairTest’s position isn’t just a hypothetical. Bates College in Maine, for instance, dropped the SAT requirement more than 20 years ago. The college says the student performance has remained strong. Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, says that five years worth of data indicates that students who don’t submit SAT scores do slightly better academically than those who do.

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