Yale Makes Admissions Tests Mandatory Again
Print Friendly and PDF

Earlier: David Leonhardt In The NYT: The Misguided War On The SAT

Yale became the second Ivy League college, after Dartmouth, after four years of test-optional admissions during the COVID/George Floyd eras, to go back to making it mandatory for applicants to submit test scores.

Why? Because the anti-test conventional wisdom is stupid.

From Raj Chetty’s shop, Opportunity Insights, a study of 12,000+ students at 12 elite colleges.

Standardized Test Scores and Academic Performance at Ivy-Plus Colleges



What is the value of standardized test (SAT and ACT) scores in college admissions? Most colleges dropped the testing requirement for admissions following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but some have since reinstated this requirement and others are considering whether to do so. We contribute to this debate by studying the relationship between a student’s test score and their academic performance during the first year of college. We use admissions records and first-year college grades from multiple Ivy-Plus colleges4 for students between 2017 and 2022 to study how standardized test scores and high school grade point average (GPA) relate to academic success in college. Even among otherwise similar students with the same high school grades, we find that SAT and ACT scores have substantial predictive power for academic success in college.

Finding #1: Students with higher SAT/ACT scores are more likely to have higher college GPAs than their peers with lower scores Comparing within students of a given gender, family income level, race or ethnicity, and among students with the same grades in high school, students with the highest possible test score (i.e., SAT score of 1600 or ACT score of 36) achieve a first-year college GPA that is 0.43 points higher than students with an SAT score of 1200 or ACT score of 25 (which equates to the 75th percentile of test takers). In their paper on admissions to highly selective colleges, Chetty, Deming and Friedman (2023) show similarly that scores correlate strongly with students’ post-college outcomes including earnings, attendance at prestigious graduate schools, and employment at prestigious firms. Since 2020, students at each of the schools in this analysis (and most schools nationwide) have had the option to apply without submitting standardized test scores. Students opting to not submit an SAT/ACT score achieve relatively lower college GPAs when they attend an IvyPlus college, with performance equivalent to students with an SAT score of 1307 (or an ACT score of 28).

Finding #2: High school GPA does a poor job of predicting academic success in college In contrast to these test score patterns, students with a perfect (scaled) high school GPA of 4.0 achieve a cumulative GPA in college that is less than 0.1 points higher than a student with a 3.2 high school GPA, indicating high school GPA does little to predict academic success in college.

What needs to be done now that the mania of the Racial Reckoning era is fading is to go over to the offensive and roll back many of the recent changes in the SAT that have made it less useful compared to its pre-1995 version. A lot of stupid changes have been made since then on the assumption that they’d help blacks and Latinos, but instead they just made the SAT more test-prepable by the children of Tiger Mothers. It’s time to fix the tests.

[Comment at Unz.com]

Print Friendly and PDF