23 September 2008 10:36 AM

Should the SAT and ACT be Abandoned?

by Dr. Rick

I read yesterday that the National Association of College Admission Counseling recommends that colleges and universities no longer rely on SAT and ACT scores in their admissions practices.  Instead, the NACAC recommends admissions exams more closely related to high school curriculum and achievement.


That’s common sense.


There’s still a place for the SAT and the ACT, though.  It may be a smaller place, and it may not carry the weight it once carried, but there’s still a place for traditional entrance exams.  The SAT and the ACT give students a chance to show their problem solving skills, their mastery of content knowledge, their abilities to persevere, to plan, to study, and to work toward a major goal.


Schools that rely solely on students’ SAT or ACT scores – if there are any left – should, of course, make these scores one part of many admissions criteria.  If I were an admissions officer I would want to know about those scores, but I’d want to know a whole lot more about a student, too.  What about her high school grades?  The kinds of courses she took?  The extracurricular activities she was involved in?  What did teachers say in their recommendations?  What are her out-of-school interests?  What books has she read recently?  What does her written work tell about her mastery of the language?  Does she have an intellectual curiosity?  What does higher education mean to her – a quest for more knowledge, a career path, a social activity, a time for growth?


Are there still colleges and universities that are uninterested in such things and want only to know SAT or ACT scores?  If so, then by all means they must change.  But if a school uses the scores as one part of a wider process to admit students, those scores can be useful.  Rather than deal-makers or deal-breakers, they become one more bit of data to ensure that the higher learning experience is good for all students with talents and skills that mere tests cannot discern.


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