The University of Chicago became the first top-10 research school Thursday to spike the requirement for SAT and ACT test scores in its admission process.
The school, which tied for third on U.S. News and World Report’s list of national universities, made the switch after mandating national tests since 1957 and scrutinizing applicants via its own tests beforehand, according to The Washington Post.
“Testing is not the be-all and the end-all,” University of Chicago admissions and financial aid dean James G. Nondorf told WaPo. He explained his aversion to having “one little test score” “scar[e] students off” when they would otherwise meet the school’s standards.
“It is about doing the RIGHT thing,” Nondorf said. “Which is helping students and families of all backgrounds better understand and navigate this process and about bringing students with intellectual promise (no matter their background) to UChicago (and making sure they succeed here too!).”
The top two dozen research universities had all previously required testing scores from prospective students. Other changes to the University of Chicago’s admissions process include a larger financial aid program and the elimination of optional in-person interviews, instead permitting applicants to send two-minute video segments.
“ACT scores provide a common, standardized metric that allows colleges to evaluate students who attend different high schools, live in different states, complete different courses with different teachers and receive different grades on a level playing field,” ACT remarked in a statement obtained by WaPo.
A little fewer than 3.6 million students graduated from high school in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Out of those graduates, over 1.8 million students completed the SAT and approximately 2 million students took the ACT.
Some advocacy groups, such as the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), campaign to encourage colleges to drop an SAT/ACT requirement. (RELATED: The Latest SAT Is Apparently A ‘Marketing Ploy Designed To Sell More Tests’)
“The College Board is a test-selling company,” FairTest public education director Bob Schaeffer said in September. “Based on its public tax returns, the Board takes in more than $900 million each year. It holds assets topping one billion dollars. The firm’s president receives nearly $900,000 in annual compensation.”
“Because Chicago has long been recognized as an admissions reform leader (e.g. Ted O’Neill and the ‘Uncommon Application’), it is now much more likely that peer national universities will follow suit,” Schaeffer told The Daily Caller News Foundation regarding the school’s switch. “From a broader ‘movement’ perspective, Chicago’s decision extends test-optional momentum from top-tier liberal arts colleges, where more than half no longer require ACT/SAT scores for all or many applicants, to a broader range of brand-name schools. An accelerated trickle-down effect is likely — FairTest’s internal ‘watch list’ already includes about three dozen schools that we know are considering dropping ACT/SAT scores.”
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