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Critically Speaking

Mar 10, 2021

Over the last few years, a number of colleges and universities have dropped the requirement for all or part of the SAT or ACT exam as part of their admissions requirements.   This movement appears to be increasing. It's logical to wonder about the large-scale implications of eliminating the requirement of these tests, the benefits, and the downsides. In today’s episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Richard Phelps, discuss this trend of eliminating standardized tests, the origins of this movement, and the potential consequences we may see as a result of these changing requirements. 


 Key Takeaways:

  • No college restricts admission decisions to admission test scores alone. They also consider grade point average, your class rank, the historical performance of students from each high school, and the quality and rigor of courses taken. Typically, these factors are given higher priority and admission decisions than test scores.
  • Making test scores optional raises a college's ranking. Once rival colleges eliminate the requirement, a college has little choice but to join them.
  • The less test scores are used in making admission decisions, the more predictive those test scores become, and the less predictive high school grades become because the variance in the ability of the entering students grows and the variance in high school grades narrows.


"College administrators may be reticent to admit they adopted a test-optional policy in order to raise their rankings and increase ethnic diversity, and, coincidentally, lowered their academic standards.." —  Dr. Richard Phelps


Connect with Dr. Richard Phelps: 

Twitter: @RichardPPhelps

Website: &

Research Gate: Richard P Phelps

SSRN Scholarly Papers: Richard P. Phelps

Academia: Richard P Phelps

LinkedIn: Richard P Phelps

LinkedIn Learning: Richard P Phelps


Connect with Therese:


Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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