For years, studying and cramming for the SATs has been, for many, a rite of passage in high school as students hope for a high enough score so that they can get into their dream school. But what if schools stop requesting the SAT as part of a larger reaction to standardized testing?
This summer, both Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and Hofstra University in NY added their names to a list of undergraduate institutions that are no longer asking applicants for their SAT scores. They join a list of over 800 schools that now identify as “test optional.”
There are several reasons schools are deciding to remove the test from their list of requirements. For many, a top reason is actually recruitment. Sub-par test scores, or an inability to pay for the test itself — which can become quite costly, especially if repeat exams are needed — can discourage otherwise great students from applying to a fitting school.
Schools also question whether a single standardized test can really tell them that much about a student’s overall aptitude for education and learning.
Hampshire College’s current dean of admissions, Meredith Twomly, said that their school found little correlation between academic achievement and higher test scores, and says that the school made the decision to eliminate the test requirement because they were a “very poor predictor of success” in the college environment.
For now, the majority of students will likely continue to take the SAT, since most schools ask for it. Schools that choose to be “test blind” risk being pulled from the rankings of U.S. News, as what happened to Sarah Lawrence about ten years ago. Sarah Lawrence now lists itself as “test optional.”