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Test Optional, Not Really

Fairtest is an organization that claims to be against standardized testing. The organization publishes a list of 775 College & Universities that do not require the SAT or ACT. Sounds impressive right? However, all it takes is a quick analysis to establish that the list is pretty flimsy. The list sounds considerably less impressive when you look more closely.

Many of those on the list are affiliates of for-profit educational institutions and repetitions abound:

  • 23 of the listed schools are associated with the DeVry name.
  • 32 of of them are ITT
  • 21 of them are branches of Davenport University
  • 4 of them are Johnson & Wales the cooking schools
  • 10 of them are branches of Florida Metropolitan
  • They clearly pumped up the list a little here. To make matters worse, 56 of those listed are not actually test optional at all, requiring applicants to “submit COMPASS, CPAT, TABE, WAIS, Stanford Achievement Test, ASSET and/or college entrance exam if not submitting SAT/ACT scores.”

    For many of the Art Schools and Cooking Schools listed, it’s not clear why they would ever have required an academic admissions test. It’s disingenuous to claim associate schools like these with a ‘growing test optional movement’ when they most likely never used the SAT or ACT in the first place!

    There’s also no notion of the scale within within this list, many of the schools have small enrollments. For example, there are 23 Yeshiva (Orthodox Jewish religious schools.) These are highly specialized institutions with small enrollments – 25-200 students. It’s a misrepresentation to pump up the list with such schools.

    There’s also no information provided on the selectivity of the schools. A less selective school does not need to use an admissions test if they are already admitting 90%-100% of candidates. I did a quick scan and found many schools that would let anybody in. It’s just not that profound a statement to say that schools that are admitting on essentially non-academic criteria or have open door policies are ‘going test optional’ when in fact they’ve never needed to use an admissions test and their admissions policies are antithetical to the use of an admissions test. This may be realistic for many of these schools, but it is not realistic for colleges and universities that need to select the best candidates for a limited number of slots.

    You can make up your own mind by taking a look at the list.

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