Most Read: Local

Class Struggle
In-depth coverage: Education Page |  The Answer Sheet
Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 12/20/2011

Admissions 101: Do colleges with test-optional admissions inflate their U.S. News ratings?

A student works on a practice test at the ACT Boot Camp in Newport, Ky. Students attend eight hour sessions for five days preparing for the standardized college entrance exam. (Patrick Reddy - Associated Press)
Some readers mentioned, after a recent Admissions 101 discussion of using the average SAT score of the incoming class to pick the school best for you, that this method might be ruined by the growing number of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT tests. Some even suggested that these test-optional colleges might look better than they are on some measures, like the ranked U.S. News college list, because the lowest scorers in their freshmen classes are the ones most likely not to reveal their scores, and thus by not revealing, raising the freshman class SAT or ACT average that forms part of the U.S. News formula.

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest, the nonprofit organization that monitors U.S. testing very closely, says this is not what is happening. U.S. News checked its data and found no advantage for test-optional schools. He says there are many ways colleges can pad their scores, such as not reporting athletes or students who enroll in spring or summer. I tend to agree with Schaeffer. I don't think any of these games make much of a difference in college rankings. But what do you think? What are Schaeffer and I missing?

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 12/20/2011

Categories:  Admissions 101

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company