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American University goes fully 'test-optional'

American University is extending its "test-optional" experiment to all applicants who can meet a Nov. 1 deadline.

Dozens of colleges have joined an informal test-optional movement by dropping the requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. Colorado College is among the most recent colleges to relax test-score requirements.

Critics of "high-stakes testing" believe the test-optional movement is a good thing.

AU administrators, who experimented with waiving test requirements in last year's Early Decision cycle, have this to say:

"This decision to expand our test-optional pilot follows a growing national trend toward test-optional policies and further emphasizes our belief that your academic performance is the most important consideration in our holistic review. While standardized test scores can help to predict potential success in college, your academic performance in the classroom is the most important factor in our review of your application; we also consider qualitative factors such as the essay, letters of recommendation and involvement in extracurricular activities."

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By Daniel de Vise  |  July 15, 2010; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Access , Administration , Admissions  | Tags: AU test-optional, American University, American University test-optional, SAT ACT FairTest, test-optional colleges  
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Comments

I believe the academic and extracurricular activities used to determine their excellence is fine. But why the "essay recommendation letters"?
That is not necessary either. It holds the student hostage to others approval instead of being allowed to be judged on their individual performance alone.
They should do away with that.

Posted by: Sanju | July 17, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I can see the argument for taking SAT scores with a grain of salt.

But on the other hand, the real world has high stakes, and you can take the SAT 2 or 3 times so it's not the end of the world if you don't do well. And the SAT is helpful because it's the only real apples to apples comparison admissions staff have to look at. High school grades aren't uniform. And diminishing the importance of the SAT/ACT just further incentivizes grade inflation in high school.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | July 17, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

I wonder where we are headed with this. Have we "progressed" to the point where no objective standard of acheivement has value? If no standards are apparent at the admissons end, is it safe to infer that there are no standards at the graduation end either? - thus proving the old axiom "Garbage in, garbage out". No disrepect intended to American U's students, plenty for its over enlightened leadership.

Posted by: ArmyVet1 | July 17, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

The reason the SAT was invented by the colleges in the first place was because they were fed up with freshmen who couldn't read well enough to understand college level texts or calculate a percentage.

Despite straight As in high school and glowing recommendation letters.

I guess nowadays you can divert the poorer students to easy majors (what the athletes are in) and still collect the tuition check each semester.

The only risk to AU is that their US News ranking might go down if they're perceived as being less selective.

Posted by: corco02az | July 17, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

When did AU become selective?

Posted by: Heather3 | July 17, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

But everyone knows that a 3.5 gpa at one school is not the same as a 3.5 gpa at another, more rigorous school. Standardized tests, for all their flaws, exist so there is, well, a standard . . . so that apples are compared to apples.

If there is a college admissions officer on this board, would you tell us whether whether you weight the differences in rigor in high school programs when you evaluate grades point averages? And how do you know about each high school?

Posted by: trace1 | July 17, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

All high schools are different. At least with a standard test that everyone takes, colleges are able to make an assessment on where a student is academically compared to other students.

Posted by: barbnc | July 17, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Bye, Bye Charter Schools, see ya NCLB Funding threats, and so long to the need to metrics needed to evaluate teachers. For when this goes National, you're gone.

Posted by: jralger | July 17, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"This decision to expand our test-optional pilot follows a growing national trend toward test-optional policies..."

With all due respect, dear AU Administrators, this decision actually follows a growing trend toward mediocrity.

Posted by: design1 | July 17, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"This decision to expand our test-optional pilot follows a growing national trend toward test-optional policies and further emphasizes our belief that your academic performance is the most important consideration in our holistic review.
.................................
American University is a private university and can do whatever they like, while public universities and colleges are required to demonstrate a policy of admission that is totally and clearly fair for Americans.

The use of SAT exams are the only fair means of insuring equality in admission to public universities and colleges.

The reality is that there is a large variation in public high schools in this nation. Individuals speak of academic performance when the reality is there is no such thing as academic performance in the high school. Each state has different standards and very few states if any use standardized testing for academic grading.

The reality of the SAT is that it is only important for students that score in the 90 percentile.

Many students do not score in the 90 percentile of the students that apply at public universities and colleges. For these students the grades at high schools will have to be used even though there awareness that there is a great deal of variation in grading at different schools.

Let the private schools do as they want since the SAT exams were never intended for private schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 17, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I wonder where we are headed with this. Have we "progressed" to the point where no objective standard of achievement has value?

Posted by: ArmyVet1
...............................
Well said.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 17, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Those 18-24 are also adults. Sucess in the university or college classroom is the path towards getting a Bachelor's degree and not necessarily SAT or ACT scores. However, SAT and ACT scores do help university and college admission officers since thousands of prospective students who apply every Fall and Winter.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | July 17, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

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