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SAT, ACT scores don't indicate student's college success, study says

According to a new study, SAT and ACT scores are not good indicators of a student's college success.
February 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
SAT and ACT scores have traditionally been strong indicators of whether a student gets into a college of his or her choice. But according to a new study, they are not indicators of a student's college success.

A growing number of colleges no longer require the tests for college admission. The study looked at 33 of those colleges over the course of eight years and found that there was no difference in college GPA and graduation rates between students who took the standardized tests and those who did not. The study's author, William Hiss, says there are far stronger factors, like high school grades, to measure intellectual talent and diversity.

"Tough courses, hard work and self-discipline matter a lot. Our findings are that the testing is nowhere near as reliable as the high school GPA," said Hiss.

It's the same view held by Angel Perez, who is dean of admissions at Pitzer College, one of the schools included in the study.

"One of the things we realized is that students that we assumed would do really well at Pitzer because they did really well on the SAT, actually weren't necessarily doing well when they got to our campus. And those students we thought we were taking a risk on because of the fact that they didn't do so well on the SAT were thriving when they got here," said Perez.

In the last decade, since the college stopped requiring standardized tests for admission, the campus says it has seen a 58 percent increase in diversity, an 8 percent increase in GPA, a 39 percent increase in applicants, and a 10 percent increase in retention.

It has also doubled its number of students from low income, first generation applicants applying to college.

At another college campus, Cal Poly Pomona, where SATs or ACTs are required, students had mixed views on the matter.

"They depend on your future, and if you want a good future, then you need to try hard and study," said Trina Garcia, a Cal Poly freshman.

"If a student applies themselves to the classroom, that shows their true character more than bubbling in answers on a Scantron," said Cal Poly senior John Huynh.

Perez says he hopes the results of the study shed light on a pass? process and open the doors to capable students who might otherwise skip college altogether.

"What I hope comes out of this study is that colleges begin to actually look inside themselves and think about whether or not the SAT is the best predictor of success, and whether they're excluding certain parts of the American population," said Perez.


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