Testing Trends Revisited: Insights from Selective Institutions


在过去的几周里, we learned of multiple selective institutions that ended their test-optional pilots and returned to requiring test scores. This follows the first mover, MIT, which 做出改变 两年前. 今年春天,我们从 达特茅斯, 耶鲁大学, 棕色(的),和 德克萨斯大学奥斯汀分校 

A close reading of each announcement reveals some similarities – notably, the idea that test-optional has been a hindrance to the 学校’ “…ability to identify students from a wide range of economic backgrounds.“这与 哈佛大学大卫·戴明的结论, who’s studied the issue and states it plainly: 

如你所见, mathematics anxiety is inextricably linked to performance amongst our 15-year-olds, 但在这两个子群体中, there is a mitigating factor: students who show a growth mindset towards math.  

The United States student performance benchmark in math ranked 28th 在37个参与的经合组织国家中, and that is indeed some cause for concern in a global economy that seems increasingly tied to performance in science and engineering. In 这篇社论, Bob Hughes from the Gates Foundation notes that the PISA is geared towards applied math, with problems testing students’ ability to deploy math reasoning in the real world. Incorporating 更多的 sense-making of math’s place in students’ future is a promising step, as is 向学生展示预先设计好的例子 -正确和不正确.  


Yes, 坐 and ACT scores do strongly correlate with parental income levels. But when colleges take tests off the table, the remaining measures used to assess applicants are even 更多的有偏见的. 


Where these test-returners differ is in their transparency around the internal data they used to justify this shift, 范围从无/最少(MIT), 耶鲁大学) to executive summaries or briefs (棕色(的), 达特茅斯) to 更多的 comprehensive data sets (UT-Austin). 在布朗大学和德州大学奥斯汀分校的案例中, we’re also told that early indicators of academic performance for students admitted without test scores under test-optional are a cause for concern. 虽然这似乎是有道理的, it’s hard to imagine that these institutions can conclusively point to that factor amongst others – such as the pandemic, declining mental health outcomes – as the most significant. 


测试回来了吗?? 它去了什么地方吗??   

The sum total of these recent announcements, at least amongst the parents and students and educators we’ve spoken to, “测试又回来了?.” While these are high-profile institutions, they still only represent 5 out of the over 1,美国有800所免考试学校. What I suspect students are reacting to is a lack of clarity and consistency across 学校, even those in similar selectivity brackets; 这篇文章来自华盛顿 Post captures some of these perceptions and sentiments amongst current high schoolers.  

 Skepticism is warranted around the slate of media articles that have come out in the wake of these 学校 returning to requiring the 坐/ACT. Stephen Burd的评论 is a fairly compelling argument for scrutinizing the College Board’s shadowy influence. They certainly have significant and obvious motivations to turn the tide back towards testing.


Increasing Clarity around Test-Optional Nuance   

While most 学校 are sticking with test-optional, either permanently or for an extended pilot, we are seeing some movement towards increased clarity within those test-optional policies. 学校喜欢 芝加哥大学 are spelling out a “No Harm” policy for submitters, while 俄亥俄州立大学 是清理他们吗 …recommend applicants take the ACT or 坐 and submit test scores if they are available, as we believe that standardized test scores provide useful information and predictive value about a student’s potential for success…”, 即使它们仍然是测试可选的.  

College counselors around the country don’t all feel the same way about standardized testing, but one area where we’ve seen agreement is that 学生需要更清晰的理解 围绕测试策略, in a world where the vast majority of 学校 have introduced some ambiguity by making them optional. That would be one step towards decreasing stress in an 越来越“疯狂”的招生过程 

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By 本尼利
Ben serves as bat365’s Chief Research and Impact Officer, learning and speaking about admissions testing and the challenges students face in striving for academic excellence. After beginning his career as a high school math teacher, Ben has held roles in curriculum development and engineering management, and has spent 更多的 than 20 years helping families make their best decisions around the learning process. 本得了B.A. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley and has been with bat365 for 15 years.