Many Students Rightly Don’t Believe Test-Optional Policies
America’s elite colleges are test-optional. Students need not submit test scores in order to apply. And, yes, some students can even earn admission without test scores. But as we’ve said all along, under test-optional admissions policies, students with great test scores will always enjoy an advantage over students with no test scores. And the students who will really benefit from test-optional policies are low-income students, first-generation college students, and/or underrepresented minorities. While of course students who do not fall into these specified categories can still earn admission without test scores, they’re at a significant disadvantage in the admissions process — whether college admissions officers tell them so or not. And, frankly, if these colleges wanted to refute our argument, they’d release the percentage of students — broken down by socioeconomic status and race — who earn admission without scores. So few elite universities have chosen to share such data, likely because they’ve got something to hide.
Yet it’s not like we’re a voice crying out in the wilderness, to borrow Dartmouth College’s motto. If families across America and around the world didn’t agree with our assessment of so-called test-optional policies, then so many students wouldn’t still be taking the SAT and ACT — and particularly so many students of higher socioeconomic status. As Janet Lorin reports for Bloomberg in a piece entitled “Wealthy Teens Tout Test Results Colleges No Longer Require,” “Wealthy college applicants submit SAT and ACT scores at a higher rate than their lower-income peers even as many colleges — even the most selective — have made such tests optional. Some 53% of students in the wealthiest households submitted this school year, according to data from the Common Application, the non-profit behind the standardized application form. By contrast, only 39% of the poorest did so. Figures broken out by socioeconomic status demonstrate ‘that more work is necessary to effectively engage and support students from across the country’s diverse communities in the college admissions process,’ researchers wrote in a report issued Monday. The report reflects applications for the admission cycle through Jan. 17.”
Does this data surprise any of our readers? Does it surprise our readers that privileged students still so often submit SAT and ACT scores? Does it surprise our readers that these skeptical students — and their parents — aren’t buying test-optional policies, no matter how loudly and how vociferously college admissions officers argue that students with great SAT or ACT scores enjoy no advantage over students with no scores in the admissions process? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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