Monthly Archives: September 2015

Guess what? You might not need to take a college entrance exam at all

There’s a growing trend among colleges and universities to go test-optional with admissions, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

What?! But you get paid to teach test-prep strategies!

Yes, we do. But our real goal is to get students from high school to college in the least painful way possible. Most of the time, that means giving them the tools and strategies they need to score really well on the SAT, but to be honest we’d be perfectly happy to work ourselves out of a job. (We like working together, and we’re pretty sure that our two geeky brains could come up with something else to do.) More schools going test-optional seems like a very good move.

Why? Well, we know something about the SAT–about most standardized tests, in fact. We know that scores on the SAT correlate very highly with students’ household income. And we know that the biggest predictor of a student’s college grades is his or her high school grades.

Admissions officers know that too.

Cory Turner at NPR did an excellent story earlier this week about the movement toward test-optional admissions, triggered by George Washington University’s announcement that it’s joining the trend. One of the reasons that schools point to for the change is that they’re trying to diversify their applicant pool, and the SAT is famously biased against minority and immigrant students. Turner dug up another reason, too: Stephen Burd at the Hechinger Report points to a study that says test-optional policies raise the number of applicants to a school, which means it accepts a smaller percentage of its total applicants, which in turn helps boost the school’s standing on the U. S. News and World Report college rankings.

Whatever the reasons are for colleges getting on board the test-optional train, it’s good news for good students who don’t score well on standardized tests. College admissions officers know that high school GPA is the best predictor of a student’s success in college, and more and more of them are willing to accept students based on their high GPAs. If this describes you to a T, check out the growing list of test-optional schools. You’ll be glad you did.