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Admissions 101: Should Colleges Ditch the SAT for AP as the Main Admissions Exam?

A little while back in Admissions 101, Jay asked whether the day of the SAT might be numbered:

Matt Gray, spokesman for Bryn Mawr College, just alerted me to their new admissions policy that, I think, anticipates a day when the SAT will give way to AP and IB as the principal college admissions exams. He said:

"Under the previous policy students were required to take either the SAT Reasoning Test and two Subject Tests or the ACT. Those choices still remain, but with the new test flexible policy, applicants now have a third option to submit a combination of three SAT Subject and/or AP tests in the following areas:

  • English, history or languages and
  • Math or science and
  • One subject of the student’s choice but in a subject different from the other two (only one non-English language may be submitted)"

Mhwebster believes an AP system would give a significant advantage to the most privileged students:

Wouldn't that favor the wealthy even more than the current system? Do most schools even have AP classes? Is there a statistical connection between the wealth of the school district and the quantity of AP classes offered? Sure, it might be a good idea if all else is equal, but I doubt that's the case.
My daughter is finishing her junior year and is currently finishing up the ridiculous testing nonsense -- three AP's (and her school had no AP classes) , three SAT subject tests, the SAT with writing and the ACT. It's an unbelievable waste of academic time.
Although I dislike the present "system," I doubt tinkering around the edges will make that much of a difference. All of the most selective schools say that a challenging high school curriculum and other factors within the control of the student matters as much or more as a test score. Of course that depends quite a bit on the quality of the school as well. The only possible way to make it remotely fair to the less wealthy would be to have a national curriculum like the BAC in France. Until then, I think we'd be better off with fewer tests, not more.

By Washington Post Editors  | June 9, 2009; 5:24 PM ET
Tags:  AP, SAT, college admissions  
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