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Are SAT/ ACT ( standardized tests ) worth the trouble ?

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Spring session is here; which brings with itself the nerve wrecking situation of getting into choicest of colleges. Millions of students worldwide are awaiting their acceptance letters on the basis of their SAT and ACT  scores. Students have been for a long time investing their future into giving such standardized tests which form the basis of their acceptance to many prestigious colleges. In first of its kind, a study by the NPR has raised question if these standardized test have become superseded now.

The study raises questions whether we still require the students to go through the cumbersome process of such tests. While setting an example, for the past 10years Pitzer College, a liberal arts college near Los Angeles has stopped the requirement of such standardized test for its applicants. Commenting on the requirement of these tests Angel Perez, the head of admissions, said, “At Pitzer, we basically did a study and what we found was there was no direct correlation between academic success on our campus and the SAT.”

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While explaining the study, one of the lead authors said that these tests are at the moment cutting down on the processing time in terms of speed and are not intelligence tests. William Hiss, the study’s lead author, “They’re not an intelligence test, and there are many, many students who may be brilliant, may be very, very talented, but are not successfully measured by speed processing.” Bates was earlier the dean of admissions at Bates College, Maine, which was on e of the earliest colleges in America to make the test optional, and have been researching on many such related topics. Hiss’ study, “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions,” examined data from nearly three-dozen “test-optional” US schools, ranging from small liberal arts schools to large public universities, over several years.

Although it said that around 800 of the 3,000 four year colleges and universities in USA have already made ACT/ SAT optional. Before the NPR study no one had taken a broad look on how these students who have taken benefit of these optional testing policies benefitted in their grades and graduation rates comparison to those who have submitted their test results to the admissions office. “Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it,” said Hiss. The study has been conclusive of the evidence that there is no major difference in the graduation and grade rates amongst the ‘takers’ and ‘non-takers’. A 0.005 per cent difference in the GPA has been found amongst the students who submitted their scores to admissions and those who did not.

College graduation rates for “non-submitters” were just 0.6 percent lower than those students who submitted their test scores. Rob Franek, with the Princeton Review, one of the largest test prep companies, says all colleges and universities are different and so are its needs and expectations. Colleges need a way to tell the good from the bad. “The SAT, the ACT and standardized tests in general for a long time have been providing that albeit in a flawed way in some case but it is that lever,” Franek shared. Some are already calling this study a potential game-changer that may prompt schools to evaluate whether there is value in requiring standardized tests.

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