Sweating A College Admissions Test? Some Schools Don't Require It

Aug 15, 2014

Credit beloit.edu

Many U.S. colleges and universities are adopting "test-optional" policies when it comes to admitting students. That means SAT and ACT scores are becoming less of a factor in the process. At least one area school is joining the movement.

Starting this fall, Beloit College says certain applicants will no longer be required to submit standardized tests scores when trying to get accepted into the school. The policy applies to domestic first-year applicants. Transfer students also don't have to provide that information.

Jason Hughes is the school's Director of Communications. He says given the competitive marketplace for recruiting students, they need to focus on measuring tools that provide the best value.

"It's really the student's academic record in high school. The quality of the courses they selected, [and] how they did in those courses," Hughes said.

Hughes cites research that makes the same argument. However, in a recent NPR report, officials with the College Board, which administers and manages the SAT, say the test is always evolving, while adding that more information is always better.

Schools like Rockford University say it's something they haven't discussed. But Vice President for Enrollment Management Eric Fulcomer says he wouldn't be surprised if they do end up considering it in the future.

"To me, conceptually, it makes sense. You want to get as much information about students as possible," Fulcomer said.

Fulcomer says that includes going beyond test scores, and taking a closer look at things like extracurricular activities. But he also says there are potential pitfalls in shifting away from test results. He says not all high-schools are created equal, and that having these scores can still serve as an alternative measuring stick when needed.

Other observers say the trend could put increased pressure on admissions offices. They say it could also lead to grade inflation issues at the high-school level.

Meanwhile, NIU officials say this type of model is not something they're considering at this time. To date, more than 800 colleges and universities in the U.S. have dropped the requirement.