Ivy Coach is referenced today on the pages of the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, “The Daily Pennsylvanian.” The piece, written by Tiffany Yau, is entitled “Students, applicants respond to Penn’s changed testing requirements” and it focuses on how the admissions office at the University of Pennsylvania will no longer be requiring applicants to submit scores from the essay portion of the SAT or ACT. As the article points out, this elimination of the essay requirement makes it easier for international students applying to Penn, since it’s quite often a section they struggle with.
Here’s where we stand on the change in policy: “Brian Taylor, director of New York-based college consulting firm Ivy Coach, does not believe the change will positively benefit economically disadvantaged students, suggesting that with or without the essay, they have the same level of potential to do well on the exam. ‘How does it make it more fair [economically]? It doesn’t. They’re still requiring other sections,’ he said. ‘[The essay] definitely is one of the more coachable sections of the SAT. You can go in there with a prompt, what you’re going to write about, and no matter what that prompt is, you can write about that subject. That is what any good SAT taker would do.'”
Ivy Coach is further referenced later on in the piece when Yau writes, “When the College Board implemented the writing section to the SAT ten years ago, many were convinced that admission officers would compare students’ SAT essays to the personal statement included in the Common Application, Taylor said. ‘When you have 25 minutes to complete [the essay], it will not be the same as the type of writing that you would have if you had unlimited time to write a personal statement,’ he explained. ‘The fact is that admission officers often didn’t compare the two samples. There wasn’t as much value as what people thought there would be.’ Taylor added that illegible penmanship served as another setback. ‘It is very hard to decipher high school handwriting,’ he said.”
The fact is that many admissions officer at highly selective colleges have always thought of the SAT as out of 1600. Even though it changed for some years to a 2400 scale (it’s now returning to the old scale on the new SAT), this metric never changed in their minds. They always evaluated the writing score separately from the math and reading scores. Thus it comes as no surprise to us that the admissions office at Penn is dropping this requirement. We wouldn’t be surprised if other colleges soon follow suit.