Category Archives: Testing


What Keeps Women Out of Elite Colleges? Their SAT Scores

We’ve all heard about the gender gap in higher education: Nationally, women enroll in college and complete degrees at higher rates than men do. But new research reveals that for decades women have been underrepresented at the nation’s most-selective institutions. And the apparent culprits are standardized tests.

Admissions offices’ reliance on SAT scores has created “de facto institutional preferences for men” at the nation’s most-competitive colleges, according to the results of a longitudinal …


At Goucher College, Applicants Who Send Videos Need Not Send Grades

Starting this fall, applicants to Goucher College may submit a self-produced video instead of test scores, high-school transcripts, and recommendations. With the Goucher Video App, announced on Thursday, the liberal-arts college in Towson, Md., becomes the first institution to offer an application option in which a videotaped response will be the primary factor in admissions evaluations.

“Students are more than just numbers,” says Christopher Wild, an admissions counselor at Goucher. “We’ve alwa…


Temple U. Drops Testing Requirement

Temple University will no longer require ACT or SAT scores for admission starting in the fall of 2015, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday.

Under Temple’s new policy, applicants who do not submit test scores will answer written “self-reflective short-answer questions,” according to Temple’s website. The questions will measure so-called noncognitive attributes such as leadership, determination, and grit, Temple officials told the Inquirer.

Temple received a $225,000 grant this month fro…


What Is This Assessment Telling Me to Do?

College-entrance examinations give students a score—bravo, kid, you got a 1400!—and not much else. But a new wave of low-stakes assessments offers them guidance.

“Actionable information,” says Ross E. Markle, one of several representatives of the Educational Testing Service who visited The Chronicle on Thursday.

Mr. Markle, senior research and assessment adviser in ETS’s higher-education division, described the importance of ”noncognitive” attributes—such as a commitment to meeting goals—tha…


Hampshire College Will Go ‘Test Blind’

Hundreds of colleges are test-optional. Hampshire College is going “test blind.”

On Wednesday the small liberal-arts college announced that it would no longer consider an applicant’s ACT or SAT score in admissions and financial-aid decisions. “If it’s sent, we won’t put it in their files,” said Meredith Twombly, Hampshire’s dean of admissions and financial aid.

Hampshire, in Amherst, Mass., has not required standardized tests since it opened, in 1970, though applicants were told that the admissi…


ACT Exam Will Include New Writing Scores and Readiness Indicators

The big tests keep evolving. Three months after the College Board unveiled plans for revising the SAT, its rival—ACT Inc.—announced on Friday coming changes in its own examination, now the nation’s most widely used college-entrance test.

Starting next year, students who take the ACT will receive more information about their readiness for college and careers, ACT officials said. The test results will include a “STEM Score,” representing a student’s performance on the mathematics and science porti…


Harvard U. Will Loosen Subject-Test Requirement

Harvard University will no longer require all applicants for undergraduate admission to submit scores from SAT subject tests, according to an email sent last week to the institution’s alumni interviewers.

In the May 14 message, William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, wrote that Harvard would soon change how it describes its testing requirements. “While we normally require two SAT subject tests,” he wrote, the new language will say, “you may apply without them if the cost of…


College Board Unveils Sample SAT Items

On Wednesday the College Board released a slew of information about its plans for redesigning the SAT, including several sample items that show how the test is changing. Here’s a look at five examples, with correct answers in bold.

‘Relevant Words in Context’

Obscure words are out, “relevant” words are in. The College Board plans to emphasize words and phrases that students are likely to encounter frequently in college. The following is a sample passage from the Reading section.

[...] The coming…


At Test-Optional Colleges, Students Surpass the Scores They Didn’t Submit

At nearly three dozen colleges that do not require applicants to take the ACT or SAT, researchers have found only “trivial differences” between the long-term performance of college students who submitted test scores and those who did not.

According to a report released on Tuesday, the cumulative grade-point averages of non-submitters was .05 lower than of submitters (2.83 compared with 2.88). The difference in their graduation rates: 0.6 percent.

The report (“Defining Promise: Optional Standardi…


High Schools Have a Cow Over College Board Stickers

cowThe College Board is known for many things, but a sense of humor is not one of them. So Gretchen G. Parks was surprised when the nonprofit organization sent her three dozen cow stickers.

On Wednesday morning, Ms. Parks, director of college counseling at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., received an envelope containing a letter. “Dear educator,” it said. “Your students participated in the PSAT/NMSQT, along with 3.6 million other students, and had a great time taking the…