A new analysis of college admissions policies found that half of the top 100 national liberal arts colleges on the U.S. News & World Report rankings now have test-optional or test-flexible policies. In addition, a record number of more than 870 colleges and universities now report having changed their admissions policies on requiring the ACT and the SAT.
Test-optional schools — including Wesleyan University and Pitzer College — don’t require ACT or SAT scores sent along with an application; test-flexible schools — including Middlebury and Colorado colleges — allow students to choose from a list of test scores they want to submit.
The analysis was done by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a nonprofit organization known as FairTest that works to end the abuse and misuse of standardized tests. FairTest has been keeping a list of schools with test-optional or test-flexible policies for years, and now has more than 800 colleges and universities on it. You can see the full list, with more than 870 schools, below, as well as a list of more than 240 highly ranked schools with test-optional/flexible policies.
Why do schools go test-optional or test-flexible? According to FairTest and officials at some schools, the reasons include concern about how using test scores — which are linked to socioeconomic status — affects minorities and about placing too much emphasis on a single standardized test score. Many schools have found that high school grades are a better predictor of student performance.
In 2015, Hampshire College, a liberal arts school in Massachusetts, decided not to to accept SAT/ACT scores from applicants at all. The school found that without using test scores it selected a freshman class more qualified by other measures than earlier classes had been. As a result of the school’s policy, U.S. News said it would not list Hampshire in its college rankings.
The ACT overtook the SAT as the most popular college admissions exam in 2012.
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